Skin Coach Q&A: Candida Overgrowth and How to Treat It

candida

Question:

I took antibiotics a few weeks ago for a cough, and since then have developed a red, bumpy type of rash on my face. What’s weird is that it isn’t just a rash. It also looks like many small pimples mixed in with the red bumps, but they’re not like any type of pimple I’ve had in the past. It seems to almost clear up, then comes right back again. Do you think I’m allergic to the antibiotic, or the cough medicine? Is there something I can do to fix it?

Erin Answers:

There’s always the possibility that you could be allergic to your medication, in which case you’d need to check with your doctor. But if allergy is ruled out, I’d seriously consider that your condition is caused by a Candida overgrowth. In fact, it is especially common following a round of antibiotics. And yes, there is something you can do about it.


What the heck is Candida overgrowth?

Candida albicans is a fungal organism, or yeast, that lives in our gut. When we take antibiotics, the drug wipes out good bacteria too. These beneficial bacteria are needed in the gut. They help balance our inner ecosystem, keeping Candida and other pathogens under control. Without this balanced system, unfriendly organisms have the opportunity to take over. Even if you haven’t taken antibiotics, you can develop a problem, as farmers use these drugs when raising non-organic animals. Due to this practice, our water supply is also contaminated. It’s estimated that one in three people suffer from Candidiasis, or Candida Related Complex (CRC). There are even higher numbers in the younger population.

While antibiotic use is a common precursor to this problem, other imbalances can lead to CRC as well. A high sugar, low mineral diet sets the stage for CRC. Hormonal birth control use is another factor. Currently, the best way to know if you have a problem is to observe your symptoms, and notice if you feel better with treatment. My clients fill out a questionnaire to help determine if symptoms and health history/ medication use indicate a Candida overgrowth.

It can manifest in many different ways

Symptoms of CRC are wide and varying. Once the yeast has a foothold in ones’ system, it can affect many different organs throughout the body. The condition has been linked to many symptoms including (but not limited to): acne, psoriasis, skin rashes, sugar cravings, PMS, chronic fatigue, recurring headaches, chronic vaginitis/yeast infections, poor memory, environmental sensitivities, and fungal conditions such as athletes foot or tinea versicolor. Some also experience a histamine reaction, so allergies and asthma are often symptoms as well.

Because acne is so frequently (and unfortunately) treated with long term antibiotics, I see a lot of CRC in my practice. Just as frequently, most of my clients have difficulty discerning the difference between true acne and what I’ve come to know as ‘fungal folliculitis’, because it does resemble acne. Oftentimes, the client actually has a combination of both. Each requires different topical approaches, so it’s critical to be able to identify the condition(s) for effective treatment.

Topical treatment alone won’t do the job

As you might imagine, treating a CRC-related rash with topical antifungals alone isn’t enough. I’ve had temporary success with this, but inevitably the fungus wins out. The only way to do the job correctly is to treat it systemically, with a Candida cleanse lasting 30 days, longer in some cases. For our purposes here, I’ll paint a simplified picture of what you can expect during this type of cleanse.

Because Candida feed on sugar, the first order of business is to starve the fungus by cutting out all sugar, including fruit. Yeast bread, dairy, alcohol, vinegar, mushrooms, starchy grains and beans are also out. The only allowed sweetener is stevia. After the first week, a small amount of fruit can be added back into the diet. Meanwhile, repopulating the gut with probiotics (beneficial bacteria) through supplements

and fermented foods is critical to support lasting change. There are also supplements that will help kill the yeast faster, but they’ll only work as an addition to the dietary changes. In other words, sorry, there are no shortcuts.

Cleansing has its benefits

I have embarked on a Candida cleanse myself, and found it challenging. Sugar cravings and flu-like ‘detox’ symptoms, plus the restricted diet, can be difficult at times. However, it was totally worth it! I was able to clear a stubborn case of fungal folliculitis in my skin, and also felt mentally clearer and more energetic than I had in years. I lost several pounds, which was a nice bonus.

To help navigate through some of the information out there, I hired a nutritionist who was able to offer information and guidance. I now help my own clients through the process, if they feel too daunted by the prospect of making these changes without some outside support. I’ve found that their skin clears faster, they feel better, and overall have a new perspective on how dietary changes can improve their long term vitality and immunity.

If you suspect you have a fungal yeast overgrowth, I strongly encourage you to consider giving your body the gift of a Candida cleanse. The benefits will reach far beyond your skin.