Tinea versicolor, also called pityriasis versicolor, is a common fungal infection of the skin. Anyone can develop it, but it is more common in adolescents and young adults.
Fungi of the genus Malassezia are normally present on the skin’s surface without causing any problems. However, at times they begin to grow out of control, affecting the pigmentation of the skin.
This results in skin patches that are lighter or darker than your original skin color. The discolored patches usually appear on the back, chest, neck and upper arms.
The discolored skin patches may disappear in winter days and reappear in hot and humid summer days. The affected skin also becomes dry and scaly. Though not common, at times, they may also cause itching.
Doctors are not sure why this fungus starts growing abnormally. Possible contributing factors include hot and humid weather, excessive sweating, oily skin, a weak immune system and hormonal changes in the body.
Tinea versicolor is not painful or contagious, but can cause emotional distress or self-consciousness. There are many over-the-counter and prescribed antifungal treatments. You can also try some simple, inexpensive home remedies.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for tinea versicolor.
1. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is an effective home remedy for tinea versicolor because of its anti-fungal properties. It will inhibit the spread of the infection and prevent recurrence. In addition, it will provide relief from itchiness.
- Add 5 to 7 drops of tea tree oil to 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil or coconut oil.
- Apply this oil on the affected area using a cotton ball.
- Allow it to dry on its own, then rinse it off with lukewarm water and pat dry.
- Follow this remedy twice daily for a few weeks.
2. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is an effective remedy for any type of fungal infection, including tinea versicolor. The medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil work as natural fungicides. This means it helps stop the growth of the fungi responsible for the infection.
- Apply some extra-virgin coconut oil on the affected areas. Allow it to dry on its own.
- Another option is to mix 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin coconut oil and 5 or 6 drops of cinnamon oil. Apply it on the affected skin. Wait 15 to 20 minutes before rinsing it off with warm water.
Follow either of these remedies 2 or 3 times daily until the infection clears up.
3. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera has a protein called 14 kDa that possesses antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties that are effective in treating tinea versicolor. It can significantly reduce the fungi’s ability to spread. In addition, it has many healing properties that promote healing of the damaged skin.
- Extract fresh aloe vera gel from an aloe vera leaf. Apply the gel directly on the affected skin areas, 2 or 3 times daily for several weeks.
- Another option is to mix a few drops of lavender oil in 1 teaspoon of aloe vera gel. Apply it on the affected areas 2 or 3 times a day.
Plain, unsweetened yogurt is a natural cure for fungal infections like tinea versicolor. The probiotics present in plain yogurt keep the growth of fungi in check. This in turn promotes quick recovery and prevents recurrence.
- Apply plain yogurt on the affected skin. Leave it on for at least 20 to 30 minutes, then rinse it off with warm water.
- Also, eat 2 to 3 cups of plain yogurt daily to help fight the yeast internally.
5. Oregano Oil
You can clear up tinea versicolor using oregano essential oil. It is one of the most potent antifungal oils, which can fight the fungi responsible for the condition as well as reduce the symptoms.
- Prepare a solution with equal amounts of oregano essential oil and extra-virgin olive oil.
- Apply it on the affected areas using a cotton ball.
- Leave it on for 30 minutes, then rinse it off with lukewarm water.
- Follow this remedy once daily for a few weeks.
You can also take oregano essential oil supplements, after consulting a doctor.
Garlic is also an effective remedy for tinea versicolor. Its antifungal properties help stop the growth of fungi and provide relief from itching.
- Apply garlic oil or freshly extracted garlic juice on the affected areas. Wait 20 minutes, then take a bath or shower. Do this once daily for a few weeks.
- Also, consume 2 to 3 cloves of raw garlic with warm water on an empty stomach daily to treat and prevent recurrence of tinea versicolor.
- A garlic supplement can be a great addition to your regimen to prevent any kind of skin infection. Consult a doctor for the correct dosage.
7. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a good remedy for tinea versicolor. Due to its antimicrobial properties, apple cider vinegar helps control the abnormal growth of the fungi. In addition, it helps prevent recurrence of the infection.
- Mix equal amounts of apple cider vinegar and lukewarm water. Dab a cotton ball in this solution and apply it on the affected area. Wait 15 minutes before rinsing it off with warm water. Follow this remedy once daily for a few weeks.
- Also, mix 2 tablespoons of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar in a glass of water and drink it twice daily.
Turmeric is another popular traditional remedy for tinea versicolor. Its natural antiseptic, antibiotic and antifungal properties promote healing and prevent the infection from recurring.
- Add 3 to 4 teaspoons of raw, unprocessed turmeric juice to a large jug of water. After taking a bath, pour this turmeric-infused water on the affected area.
- Alternatively, mix equal amounts of turmeric powder and sandalwood powder. Add enough water to make a paste. Apply the paste to the affected areas. Leave it on for 30 minutes, then take a bath or shower.
Follow either of these remedies once daily until the spots disappear.
9. Indian Lilac
Indian lilac, also known as neem, is a very effective treatment for skin infections. This herb contains antifungal, antimicrobial and antiseptic properties. It helps control the growth of the fungi that causes tinea versicolor and promotes quick healing.
- Boil a handful of washed neem leaves in 2 cups of water for 10 minutes. Strain and allow the water to cool. Use this water to wash the affected area, 2 or 3 times a day for a few weeks.
- Another option is to grind some neem leaves with water. Apply this paste directly on the affected area, allow it to dry and then wash it off with water. Follow this remedy once daily for a few weeks.
- Alternatively, soak a cotton ball in neem oil mixed with carrier oil such as olive oil or coconut oil and apply it on the infected area. Do this twice daily for at least 2 to 3 weeks.
10. Healthy Diet
Since weak immunity contributes to tinea versicolor, a healthy immune-boosting diet should be an important part of your treatment. Proper nutrition can boost the immune system and help prevent and fight the infection.
- A diet high in vitamins A, C, E and B helps give your immune system a healthy boost.
- Include fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet.
- Eat foods with probiotics, such as yogurt and kefir.
- Avoid too much carbohydrates in your diet, as it stimulates yeast production.
At the same time, drink plenty of water daily to get rid of harmful toxins that can compromise the immune system.
- Avoid using oily or greasy skin care products.
- Do not wear tight clothing. Try to wear clothes made of breathable fabrics, such as cotton.
- Avoid excessive heat and sweating.
- Shower daily and use a washcloth to exfoliate the areas to reduce the amount of fungus on the skin.
- Regularly wash your clothes, towels and washcloths in hot water.