At the risk of sharing too much information, I’m going to tell you a little of what happened with my husband earlier this summer. As you may have guessed from the title it’s not something that would come up in polite conversation, but definitely something many people have experienced, especially in the heat of the summer.
We’ve had a pretty good summer so far here in the Okanagan. Yes, some rain, but then again we’ve not had the fires and smoke of recent years either. And we are still getting our fair share of heat, which I love.
Now, for those who are working in the heat and enduring all that comes with, perhaps not so much. In addition to the obvious things like heat exhaustion, sun stroke and dehydration, sunny days and high temperatures can also bring out rashes and/or exacerbate existing skin irritations. Enter my hubby.
My hubby is an automotive technician and his job requires he wear a shop uniform that is not very breathable. And so with the heat of summer, the last few years especially, he’s experienced some real discomfort in the form of red, irritated, itchy skin in a few places. This year, things escalated and became so problematic, he actually asked to go see a doctor while we were on holidays.
I did a little research before we went and came up with the same diagnosis as the doctor. The nasty, angry, circular red blotches under his arms, around the waistband and in the groin area was not just a “heat rash.” It was a fungus. Ringworm, jock itch, athletes foot, whatever you want to call it, it’s all the same. Names differ only because of where the rash decides to call home. And hubby had them all.
OK, I’m going to back up just a little as there were some signs that we missed prior to the full-blown fungus outbreak that had we caught, would have prevented his extreme discomfort. No need for anyone else to suffer, right? So here’s what I found.
Skin irritations caused by fungus do show up as angry, red circular patches. And they can also be brownish spots or patches — like a darker pigmentation in the skin — or it can even be the reverse where there are white spots, as if pigment is missing. These discolourations sometimes mistaken for vitiligo. Some of you might know it as the Michael Jackson disease. And this is exactly what threw me off.
Several years ago, my hubby was told he had vitiligo. Which, after he decided to stop using the toxic creams and taking meds with the “may cause cancer” side effects, we successfully eliminated using an all-natural antioxidant product.
For a few months now, I’d noticed some white spots start to come back on his hands and then darker brown patches under his arms. They didn’t bother him, nothing was raised or mole-like and because of the diagnosis years ago I assumed vitiligo had returned. Especially since we had been unable to get that antioxidant product for a few years. So I just made a point to keep an eye on it.
Vitiligo is an auto-immune disease, which is an inflammatory condition. As antioxidants help get rid of inflammation, I just took it for granted that’s what it was. After this recent bout of fungus however, I’m seeing there are other factors as well.
Fungus can be contagious — we’re all told to wear flip flops in public showers and on pool decks — but it can also come from within. Too much sugar or yeast in the body, compromised or low immune function, toxins (because they tax the immune system) can also set the stage for a fungus to develop.
How does it first show up? You guessed it, a discolouration that looks like vitiligo.
Long story short, we targeted the fungus from within as well as topically. Back to high antioxidants to bring down that angry, red inflammatory mess, as well as a few other supplements to bring up immune function, along with garlic capsules and oil of oregano, both natural anti-fungal treatments.
We also used tea tree oil and oil of oregano topically (the prescription cream ran out in two days) two or three times per day.
Within one week, the rash was significantly reduced and within 10 days, the brown discolouration patches under his arms had faded almost completely away. Compared to the two to four weeks that had been suggested it would take.
What can we take away from this?
Our bodies are always talking to us, giving us signs of what is not working, and clues as to what we need to do to get back into balance and restore our health. Do not assume that, just because you’ve had something in the past, what you’re experiencing now is the same thing. And always look inward to alleviate an outward condition.
Tania Gustafson is a nutritionist and fitness coach. On the web: fuelignitethrive.com. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tune in to her “For the Health of It” podcast every Saturday at 8 a.m. on OkanaganValleyRadio.com