In a recent blog post, I mentioned that we have a lot of research to support the idea that fungus may be an underlying cause of eczema.
Atopic dermatitis is just one of many skin conditions that can be triggered or worsened by fungus. What other skin conditions can be caused or worsened by fungus?
Food allergies and food intolerances
Skin conditions are often thought to be completely unrelated to food. This is a dangerous idea, because it means that many people continue to eat foods that are making their skin worse. In fact, food allergies and food intolerances can trigger or worsen almost any type of skin condition, including acne (which I wrote about here).
Why does this happen? If you’re eating a food to which you are allergic or intolerant, your body is going to mount an immune response. The immune response can affect your skin directly – for example, if you have hives or atopic dermatitis – but it can also affect your body in more indirect ways. For example, if you have a food allergy or intolerance and you eat the offending food, inflammation-causing chemicals called cytokines will be released into your bloodstream. These cytokines will travel all over your body and wreak havoc wherever they end up. In
I have had eczema since I was a baby and food allergies since I was in elementary school, so I’ve spent many years in the dermatologist’s office for rashes, bumps and hives. Through the years, my doctor told me that I did not have fungal acne; it was eczema or just a rash. But through my own research and experimentation, I’m convinced that my skin condition is exactly what is called fungal acne.
Since it’s also hard to diagnose, I don’t blame any of my doctors for missing it—I didn’t know much about it either. But through the help of a few different doctors (dermatologists, allergists and a general practitioner) as well as online research, I now have a better understanding of my skin condition and how to treat it.
This blog post will share what I learned in hopes that others can benefit from this information.
What is fungal acne?
As you may have already seen, I’ve recently been posting about fungus and the skin.
There are many reasons why I think this is important information to share, but first let me give you a bit of background…
When my son was only 8 months old, he started getting eczema. Not just any eczema. It looked like he had been burned on his shins and had blisters all over his torso. He was tested for every food allergy possible (at one point, our shampoo contained a whopping 20 ingredients) but nothing seemed to help.
Fast forward 4 years, and he still has eczema on his shins that comes and goes with the seasons. Though it is not as severe or widespread as it once was, it is still very much a part of our daily lives. And while I can’t say that we have completely healed him or are even close to “healing” him in any way, I can say that we have made some good progress.
I know there are a lot of people out there who also struggle with eczema. Some even struggle with more severe and painful forms of eczema than my son had so I wanted to share with you some things we have learned
If you have been reading my posts for the last few years, you know that I am interested in the relationship between fungus and skin conditions.
Here is a quick summary of the most important information:
1. Eczema and contact dermatitis can be caused by a reaction to fungus or yeast on the skin. This condition is called Malassezia hypersensitivity or fungal eczema. Antibiotics do not help this type of eczema; however, anti-fungal medications such as ketoconazole and miconazole are very effective.
2. Food allergies can be caused by a reaction to fungus or yeast in food. This condition is called candidiasis or food allergy-induced eczema. If you have this type of eczema, you will probably react to one or more of these foods: milk, cheese, yogurt, bread (or other baked goods), beer, wine and foods containing vinegar (salad dressings, ketchup).
3. All types of skin conditions can become worse when you eat foods that contain mold because mold is a type of fungus. For example, if you are allergic to fungus on your skin (see
We have all heard of and/or suffered with acne. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, approximately 50 million Americans suffer from acne every year and it is the most common skin condition in the United States. The most common cause of acne is hormonal changes due to puberty, pregnancy, menstruation or stress. Acne can be triggered by bacteria in pores or hair follicles that are clogged with oil and dead skin cells. Acne medications work by reducing oil production, speeding up skin cell turnover, fighting bacterial infection or reducing inflammation—which helps prevent scarring.
It is possible for patients to suffer from a fungus-related form of acne that can be mistaken for traditional acne vulgaris. This fungus-related form of ance is called Malassezia Folliculitis (MF), Pityrosporum Folliculitis (PF) or more commonly known as “Fungal Acne”. There are many types of Malassezia yeasts found in humans including M restricta, M globosa and M sympodialis; however not all Malassezia yeasts will cause MF as this type requires several specific changes in the host environment such as lipophilicity.
MF can affect anyone
Despite the fact that I am a physician and researcher, I have been struggling with eczema since my childhood. Unfortunately, I got used to it and took it as a part of myself; however, it was always on my mind. Specifically, I was always thinking about what causes my eczema and why do I have it while most of my peers don’t?
I grew up in Iran and attended school there until high school. After that, I went to Germany for college and then to the US for graduate school. I remember having eczema as far back as elementary school in Iran. However, it was not that severe at that time. It started becoming worse when I was around 13 years old. At first, it started on my hands and then spread to other parts of my body including neck, arms, legs, back side of knees and feet.
As a teenager, being embarrassed from having red skin patches on your visible body parts is normal; therefore, I tried many different things to get rid of them or at least make them disappear: lotions, creams, oral medications such as antihistamines (most commonly), emollients (more commonly known as moisturizers), etcetera…
Fungal acne is a chronic skin condition that can be difficult to treat and mistakes made early on in treatment can mean a longer recovery. There are different types of fungal acne and they can be mistaken for other skin conditions like eczema.
The type of fungal acne I had was caused by Malassezia Globosa, which is the fungus that causes pityrosporum folliculitis (PF), also known as malassezia folliculitis. There are several other fungi that can cause fungal acne, including Malassezia Furfur.
It is thought that the overgrowth of these fungi live on our skin, feed off our sebum and spread onto the surface of our skin, causing acne like spots, rashes or hives.
This article will give you an overview of my experience with fungal acne, what I did to get rid of it, and how I managed to keep it at bay for a whole year now!