Delving into the Realm of Skin Yeast Infections and Demystifying its Truth
What begins as a small discolored patch of skin on your shoulders, neck or torso can swiftly progress into a myriad of skin blotches, which can progress throughout your body. Upon first glance, this noticeable alteration in skin texture and color evenness may appear to be the symptoms of a highly contagious skin infection. After going to your physician, you uncover the source of this disheartening condition. Thankfully, it's not some rare disease, but rather a common skin yeast infection known as tinea versicolor. Even though the term “common” eases your mind, the majority of patients suffering with this condition have a universal question, “Is tinea versicolor contagious?” Moreover, “How did I catch this skin infection?”
Although the physical appearance of tinea versicolor can be cause for concern, the reality of this condition is far less severe than many originally think. If you, or someone you know, is suffering from a tinea outbreak, continue reading to uncover the truth and myths for this very human skin condition.
Finally an Answer | Is Tinea Contagious?
Before delving into how this condition is started, let's answer the question on everyone's mind – No, tinea versicolor is not contagious. Unlike other skin infections, which are the result of bacteria or viruses, the proliferation of tinea has nothing to do with coming in contact with an infected person. In fact, the progression of this infection is solely based upon your unique physiology and local climate. Since this condition is not contagious, how does one get it?
In order to understand the cause of tinea versicolor, you must hold an understanding of your body. Along the surface of your skin, millions of microscopic yeast and fungal cells form what is known as skin flora. This yeast lives on everyone's skin. While researchers aren't sure why yeast on some overgrows and not in others, there are several clear facts regarding tinea versicolor:
- The proliferation of tinea versicolor is found in all genders and all races. Skin color does not play a role in either being more likely or less likely to develop this condition.
- Preliminary research found teenagers and young adults are slightly more likely to develop tinea due to their increase in skin oil production. It seems oily skin is much more likely to be susceptible to tinea.
- Older adults and prepubescent children are the least likely to develop this condition.
- Those living in warm tropical or subtropical climates are the most likely to develop this condition, regardless of age or skin condition.
- People who experience tinea versicolor in non-tropical climates typically experience a reduction or elimination of symptoms during the fall and winter months.
The Causes of Tinea Versicolor | Causes of Yeast Overgrowth
The actual cause of tinea versicolor is a unique fungus known as Malassezia furfur, which is present on the skin of most adults. While this component of skin flora typically lives completely unnoticed; however, it has an ability to transform into what is commonly known as tinea versicolor. The exact triggers of this transformation are not fully understood by the medical community. However, there are several factors which seem to be universal among those who suffer from this yeast infection:
- High humidity and/or tropical climates. There seems to be a direct connection between high temperatures and thick air moisture when it comes to the overgrowth of skin flora; specifically, the dimorphic fungus, Malassezia furfur.
- Excessive sweating seems to be a somewhat common factor in outbreaks. Researchers suggest the constant moisture promotes excessive growth of yeast, which may result in tinea versicolor symptoms.
- Lowered immune system due to other diseases or medications. It seems your immune system plays a direct role in regulating the development of skin and gut flora. When the immune system is compromised, it seems the likelihood of developing tinea versicolor is increased.
- Hormonal changes seem to be a trigger for some individuals; however, the true influence of hormone fluctuations requires further investigation by the scientific community.
While there is still much mystery surrounding this common yeast infection, the medical and holistic communities have cultivated numerous effective treatment options. Although many treatments can eliminate the signs and symptoms of tinea versicolor, the physical evidence of a previous infection can take months, if not a year or two, to completely disappear. Even though the skin discoloration commonly associated with this infection may take some time to smooth out, other symptoms, such as new discoloration and/or itching, should disappear within two to four weeks of treatment. Of course, if the proliferation of this infection continues after four weeks of consistent treatment, you should visit a dermatologist for prescription-strength ointments.