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How To Get Rid Of Tinea Versicolor + Symptoms, Causes, And Diet Tips

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How To Get Rid Of Tinea Versicolor + Symptoms, Causes, And Diet Tips July 11, 2018

Do you have discolored patches over certain areas of your skin? And do you live in a hot climate? If you answered yes to both these questions, you have most probably developed a fungal skin condition called tinea versicolor. To know more about this condition and its treatment options, continue reading.

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What Is Tinea Versicolor?

There is a fungus called malassezia that lives on the surface of your skin. Although it usually doesn’t cause any health problems, this fungus can sometimes grow out of control and cause changes in the natural color of your skin. As a result, you may develop patches that are lighter or darker than the surrounding skin.

This condition is not contagious and is referred to as tinea versicolor. Another term used for this condition is pityriasis versicolor.

One of the main signs of the onset of this condition is a discolored patch or patches that surface on your skin. These patches occur in various forms. The following section lists the symptoms of tinea versicolor.

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Signs And Symptoms Of Tinea Versicolor

The most prominent symptom of tinea versicolor is the discolored skin patches that can occur on your arms, chest, neck or even back.

These patches might be:

  • Discolored as compared to the surrounding skin
  • Red, brown, pink or slightly tanned
  • Itchy, scaly, and dry
  • More evident with tanning
  • Disappear in cooler and less humid weather

The exact cause of this uncontrolled growth of malassezia fungus is not yet established. However, some factors are known to promote the growth of this fungus and increase the risk of infection.

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Causes And Risk Factors For Tinea Versicolor

Factors that can promote the growth of malassezia fungus are:

  • Hot and/or humid climate
  • Sweating a lot
  • Oily skin
  • Weak immunity
  • Hormonal changes

Some factors can increase your risk of developing this skin condition. They include:

  • A family history of tinea versicolor
  • Living in a subtropical climate
  • Taking medications that may weaken your immune system
  • Cancer
  • Taking medications that may disrupt your hormonal balance

One of the easiest ways to find out if you have developed tinea versicolor is to observe yourself physically and look for discolored patches. Your doctor may also conduct the following tests to check for the onset of tinea versicolor.

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‎How Is Tinea Versicolor Diagnosed?

Tinea versicolor can usually be diagnosed by looking at your skin. However, if such a diagnosis is not possible, your doctor may ask to take the following tests:

  • A skin scraping test that involves scraping the affected skin and observing it under a microscope for the fungus.
  • Potassium hydroxide (KOH) microscopy, which involves observing scraped skin with a KOH solution under a microscope.
  • Biopsy, which requires the outer layer of your skin to be tested.
  • Wood’s lamp test, which involves the use of a special machine called Wood’s lamp that uses ultraviolet rays to check for the presence of fungus on your skin.

If the presence of the fungus is confirmed, you can begin with the treatment almost immediately. The treatment for this condition can also be initiated right at home with the help of some basic home remedies that are listed below.

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How To Get Rid Of Tinea Versicolor Naturally

    1. Essential Oils
    2. Baking Soda
  1. Garlic
  2. Vitamins
  3. Yogurt
  4. Coconut Oil
  5. Apple Cider Vinegar
  6. Aloe Vera
  7. Castor Oil
  8. Epsom Salt
  9. Grapefruit Seed Extract
  10. Neem
  11. Turmeric
  12. Candle Bush
  13. Honey

Home Remedies To Treat Tinea Versicolor

1. Essential Oils

a. Tea Tree Oil

Tea Tree Oil Pinit

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You Will Need
  • 7 drops of tea tree oil
  • 1 teaspoon of coconut oil
What You Have To Do
  1. Mix seven drops of tea tree oil with a teaspoon of coconut oil.
  2. Apply the mixture to the affected areas.
  3. Leave it on for 30 to 60 minutes before washing it off.
How Often You Should Do This

You must do this 2 to 3 times daily.

Why This Works

Tinea versicolor might result in itchy and discolored skin. The anti-inflammatory properties of tea tree oil can help in relieving the itching, while its antifungal activities eliminate the fungus causing this condition (1).

b. Eucalyptus Oil

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You Will Need
  • 6-7 drops of eucalyptus oil
  • 1 teaspoon of any carrier oil (coconut oil, jojoba oil, etc.)
What You Have To Do
  1. Take six to seven drops of eucalyptus oil and add a teaspoon of any carrier oil to it.
  2. Massage this mixture into the affected areas and leave it on for 30 to 40 minutes.
  3. Wash it off and pat your skin dry.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this multiple times daily.

Why This Works

Eucalyptus oil contains a compound called eugenol, which is popular for its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial actions. It helps relieve the symptoms of tinea versicolor and can also be used to fight the malassezia fungus (2).

c. Patchouli Oil

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You Will Need
  • 8 drops of patchouli oil
  • 1 teaspoon of coconut oil
What You Have To Do
  1. Mix eight drops of patchouli oil with a teaspoon of coconut oil or any other carrier oil.
  2. Massage this mixture gently into the affected skin.
  3. Leave it on for 20 to 40 minutes and wash it off.
  4. You can also leave this on overnight.
How Often You Should Do This

You must do this thrice daily.

Why This Works

Patchouli oil helps soothe inflamed and itchy skin. It is also a great remedy to fight fungal infections, thanks to its antifungal properties – which also help treat tinea versicolor (3), (4).

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2. Baking Soda

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You Will Need
  • 1-2 teaspoons of baking soda
  • Water (as required)
What You Have To Do
  1. Take two teaspoons of baking soda and add a few drops of water to it.
  2. Apply the paste to the affected areas and leave it on for 20 to 30 minutes.
  3. Wash the mixture off with water.
  4. You can also mix a teaspoon of baking soda with a glass of water and consume it.
How Often You Should Do This

You must do this on a daily basis.

Why This Works

Fungi cannot survive in an alkaline environment. The pH of your skin is usually acidic. Baking soda makes it alkaline, thus eliminating the fungi responsible for causing tinea versicolor (5).

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3. Garlic

Garlic Pinit

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You Will Need

Minced garlic

What You Have To Do
  1. Mince some garlic and extract the juice.
  2. Apply the garlic extract to the affected area and leave it on for 20 to 30 minutes.
  3. Wash it off with water.
  4. You can also consume two cloves of garlic daily on an empty stomach.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this twice daily.

Why This Works

Garlic is a rich source of a compound called allicin. This organosulfur compound is known for its powerful anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial activities that can be used to treat tinea versicolor and its symptoms (6).

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4. Vitamins

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Vitamins A, D, and E can help treat tinea versicolor. They regulate your melanin production and promote faster recovery (7), (8). These vitamins are also great antioxidants and exhibit healing properties.

These vitamins are available in spinach, turnips, kale, eggs, milk, fish, and broccoli. You can also take additional supplements you are deficient in these vitamins, but only after consulting a doctor.

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5. Yogurt

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You Will Need

Plain yogurt (as required)

What You Have To Do

  1. Take some plain yogurt and apply it directly to the affected skin.
  2. Leave it on for 30 minutes, after which you can wash it off with water.

How Often You Should Do This

You must do this 2 to 3 times daily.

Why This Works

Yogurt is rich in probiotics, which display antifungal activities. They can be used to treat the malassezia fungus that causes tinea versicolor (9).

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6. Coconut Oil

Coconut Oil Pinit

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You Will Need

Coconut oil (as required)

What You Have To Do
  1. Apply coconut oil to the affected areas.
  2. Leave it on for 30 minutes or overnight before washing it off.
How Often You Should Do This

You must do this 2 to 3 times daily.

Why This Works

The anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antifungal activities of coconut oil can aid the treatment of tinea versicolor. The presence of monolaurin makes coconut oil a wonderful remedy (10), (11).

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7. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar Pinit

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You Will Need
  • 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup of water
  • Cotton pads
What You Have To Do
  1. Add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to the water.
  2. Dip a cotton pad into the solution and apply it to the affected areas.
  3. You can also drink this solution once a day.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this 2 to 3 times daily for effective results.

Why This Works

The acetic acid in apple cider vinegar exhibits remarkable anti-inflammatory properties, which (along with the antifungal properties) help relieve the inflammation and infection associated with tinea versicolor (12).

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8. Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera Pinit

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You Will Need

1 tablespoon of aloe vera gel

What You Have To Do
  1. Take a tablespoon of aloe vera gel and gently spread it all over the affected area.
  2. Leave it on for about 30 minutes and then wash it off.
How Often You Should Do This

You must do this multiple times daily until you notice a difference.

Why This Works

Aloe vera’s healing nature can speed up your recovery. It also has powerful anti-inflammatory and antifungal properties that can help you get rid of tinea versicolor (13), (14).

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9. Castor Oil

Castor Oil Pinit

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You Will Need

Castor oil (as required)

What You Have To Do
  1. Take a little castor oil in your hands and apply it all over the discolored skin.
  2. Leave it on for 20 to 30 minutes and wash it off with plain water.
  3. You can also keep the oil on overnight.
How Often You Should Do This

Apply castor oil multiple times on the affected area daily.

Why This Works

The ricinoleic acid (ricinoleate) in castor oil exhibits anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial activities that help treat tinea versicolor (15), (16).

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10. Epsom Salt

Epsom Salt Pinit

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You Will Need
  • 1 cup of Epsom salt
  • Water
What You Have To Do
  1. Add a cup of Epsom salt to a tub filled with water.
  2. Soak in it for 20 to 30 minutes.
  3. Pat your skin dry.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this once daily.

Why This Works

Epsom salt contains magnesium, which helps reduce inflammation. The topical application of Epsom salt helps in treating the inflammatory symptoms of tinea versicolor (17).

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11. Grapefruit Seed Extract

Grapefruit Seed Extract Pinit

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You Will Need
  • A few teaspoons of grapefruit seed extract
  • Cotton pads
What You Have To Do
  1. Dip a cotton pad in a few teaspoons of grapefruit seed extract.
  2. Apply it to the affected skin.
  3. Leave it on for 30 minutes and wash it off with plain water.
How Often You Should Do This

You must do this 2 to 3 times daily.

Why This Works

Grapefruit seed extract is a powerful anti-inflammatory and antifungal remedy that can be used to combat the fungus that causes tinea versicolor (18).

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12. Neem

Neem Pinit

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You Will Need
  • A handful of neem leaves
  • Water
What You Have To Do
  1. Take a handful of neem leaves.
  2. Add water to them and blend.
  3. Apply the neem paste to the affected areas.
  4. Leave it on for about 30 minutes and rinse it off.
How Often You Should Do This

You must do this 3 to 4 times daily.

Why This Works

Neem is a popular herbal medicine. It helps reduce inflammation in your skin and fights fungal infections with its anti-inflammatory and antifungal properties (19), (20). The topical application of this herb can work wonders in treating tinea versicolor.

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13. Turmeric

Turmeric Pinit

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You Will Need
  • 2 teaspoons of turmeric powder
  • Water (as required)
What You Have To Do
  1. Take two teaspoons of turmeric powder and add a little water to make a thick paste (not runny).
  2. Apply the paste all over the discolored skin.
  3. Leave it on for about 20 to 30 minutes.
  4. Wash it off with water.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this thrice daily.

Why This Works

The main constituent of turmeric is curcumin, which has antifungal as well as anti-inflammatory properties that amazingly work well against tinea versicolor (21), (22).

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14. Candle Bush

Candle Bush Pinit

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You Will Need
  • Candle bush leaves
  • Olive oil (as required)
What You Have To Do
  1. Take a handful of candle bush leaves.
  2. Pour a little olive oil – just enough to make a paste.
  3. Leave the concoction on for about 30 minutes and rinse it off.
  4. You can also apply the candle bush preparation that is readily available in the market for this purpose.
How Often You Should Do This

You must do this 2 to 3 times daily.

Why This Works

Candle bush leaves contain effective antifungal compounds. Which is why they can be effective against tinea versicolor, as per a study published in Ethnopharmacology in 1994 (23).

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15. Honey

Honey Pinit

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You Will Need

Organic honey (as required)

What You Have To Do
  1. Take some honey and apply it to the affected areas.
  2. Leave it on for at least 30 minutes and then wash it off.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this several times daily.

Why This Works

Given the healing, anti-inflammatory, and antifungal properties of honey, it is no surprise that it can effectively treat tinea versicolor and its symptoms (24).

Along with these remedies, it is also important to consider altering your diet for treating tinea versicolor and preventing its recurrence.

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Diet Tips

If you are suffering from tinea versicolor, you must pay extra attention to your regular diet. Following are two lists –foods that you must eat more of, and foods that are best avoided when you are suffering from tinea versicolor. Take a look.

What To Eat
  • Probiotic-rich yogurt
  • Low-carb foods like broccoli, green beans, avocados, etc.
  • Protein-rich foods like fish, meat, eggs, and poultry
  • Garlic
What Not To Eat
  • Sugar
  • Alcohol
  • Vinegar
  • Nuts
  • Fruits

You must also make a few changes to your usual lifestyle to assist your recovery. This can be done by simply following these prevention tips.

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Prevention Tips

  • Avoid hot and humid climates.
  • Do not tan or expose yourself to the sun too much.
  • Try and sweat minimally.
  • Do not indulge in intense exercises.
  • Take a bath twice a day.
  • Don’t let sweat dry up on your skin. Wipe it with a handkerchief.

Even if you follow the prevention tips, the chances of recurrence of this condition are high. Hence, you must be at your attentive best and avoid all triggers.

Most of the remedies discussed here are effective in treating cases of tinea versicolor and can be confidently tried at home. Would you like to share any more remedies with us? Get in touch with us via the comments section below.

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Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

Is tinea versicolor the same as vitiligo?

No. Vitiligo is a result of dysfunctional cells that are responsible for producing melanin. Whereas, tinea versicolor is a skin condition caused by a yeast fungus called malassezia.

How long does tinea versicolor last?n

In about two weeks, the physical symptoms like scaly and dry skin will be resolved. However, it may take about 6 to 12 months for your normal skin color to be restored.

Which is the best soap for tinea versicolor?

Antifungal soaps (like Naturasil Tinea Versicolor) soap are often recommended for the treatment of tinea versicolor. Zinc pyrithione is another soap used for treating tinea versicolor.

Which antifungal cream is best for tinea versicolor?

Creams containing antifungal ingredients like clotrimazole, miconazole, selenium sulfide, and terbinafine are recommended for the treatment of tinea versicolor. Another popularly used lotion is the one made of selenium disulfide, which is also used as a shampoo, called Selsun Blue. You can also use any of the above remedies if you are looking for natural alternatives.

Does tinea versicolor itch?

Although the discolored skin patches are not contagious or painful, they may become scaly and itchy.

Which area of your body is most affected by tinea versicolor?

Tinea versicolor can affect any part of your body, but it is most likely to affect your neck, chest, back, and arms.

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