Q & A Library

Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Tinea Versicolor: Stubborn Skin Condition?

I've been dealing with tinea versicolor for about five years, and it seems to be spreading. It's on my chest, armpits, arms, neck, inner thigh, navel area, and shoulders. I don't want to use antifungals. Diluted essential oils have worked before but didn't get rid of the whole thing. I found something called Terrasil. Is that good? What can I do to end this?

Answer (Published 6/7/2011)

Tinea versicolor is a common skin infection stemming from overgrowth of a fungus that normally lives on the skin. It is harmless but can be annoying. Tinea appears as areas of scaly, discolored skin that tend to be more noticeable after exposure to the sun. The patches of discoloration can be white, pink, tan or dark brown. Sometimes, they itch. Tinea versicolor is most common among adolescents and young adults with oily skin and tends to come on in hot, humid weather, as a result of excessive sweating, during periods of hormonal change, and when the immune system can't defend the skin against overgrowth of the organism.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor for Your Personal Care - Thousands of people have benefited from Dr. Weil's nutritional supplement recommendations, designed to complement your lifestyle and optimize your health. Learn more, and get your free, personalized Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor Recommendation today.

Typically, these infections are treated with applications of non-prescription antifungal lotions, creams, gels or shampoos. If those products don't work, oral antifungal drugs may be prescribed.

I do not recommend using Terrasil, which is a colloidal silver product. Contrary to claims made for it, colloidal silver is not a substitute for antibiotics, or any other medications. It is true that silver is an effective germicide with some usefulness in medicine, but it can accumulate in the body and cause a much more disfiguring skin condition called argyria, marked by bluish-gray pigmentation, especially around the nose and mouth. This color change cannot be reversed. Long-term use of oral silver products has led to neurological problems including seizures, as well as kidney damage. It can also interfere with the absorption of some drugs including tetracycline antibiotics and thyroid hormone supplements.

I suggest trying tea tree oil extracted from the leaves of Melaleuca alternifolia. This works as well as or better than pharmaceutical antifungal products. Apply a light coating to the affected area two or three times a day, and continue to apply it for two weeks after signs of the infection have disappeared to make sure the fungus is eradicated. Be sure to select brands that are 100 percent tea tree oil. In addition, consider scrubbing the affected areas with Selsun Blue shampoo and an exfoliating pad such as a "Buf-Puf," which can provide an antifungal effect. Adding some raw garlic to your diet might also help, because of garlic's potent antifungal activity.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle on (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being in just eight weeks! Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe Wellness Guide
Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Food Pyramid

Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you and their corresponding answers from Dr. Weil.

Copyright © 2015 Weil Lifestyle
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here