• Rashes and Candida – The Connection between Skin and Gut

    by Dr. Maura Scanlan
    on Jun 17th, 2015

Missed parts 1–3? Catch up:

In last week’s blog we looked at how Candida overgrowth, or yeast infection, causes chronic intestinal bloating and embarrassing gas. This week we turn our attention to the effect that Candida has on the skin, the frontline role your skin plays in defending you from unwanted bugs and bacteria, and the surprising relationship between your skin and your digestive system.

Did you know that the skin and the digestive system originated from the same cell type and develop at the same time in embryos? Now what does this little piece of embryology have to do with Candida and skin rashes? Let me explain.

We all start out as the fusion of two cells, one from our mother and one from our father. From the moment of conception these two cells start to divide again and again and again, creating more and more cells that will eventually specialize and turn into all the elements that make up our human bodies: internal organs, digestive system, skin, hair etc.  Before our digestive system develops, our cells are laid out flat like a fried egg – at this stage they are all the same. Then, the cells roll into each other forming a tube within a tube. At this stage the cells start to specialize, turning into three different kinds of cells: endoderm, ectoderm and mesoderm. These three different kinds of cells form different parts of our bodies as we develop into the baby we will become. The interesting bit is that the cells that develop from the same origin often behave in similar ways and the cells of the skin and the cells of the lining of the digestive system were originally from the same cell typeInteresting isn’t it?

Armed with this knowledge it makes sense if we have red, hot, irritated skin on the outside of our body, to ask what is happening to the cells inside the body. It is for this reason that Naturopaths consider the health of the cells inside the digestive system whenever we are treating someone for skin symptoms. To understand this connection better we need to take a closer look at the role of the skin.

The Skin and Candida

The skin is an important part of our immune system, providing the first line of defense against foreign invaders – stopping them getting into our bodies and causing infections – but what happens when our digestive system is infected with Candida? How does that affect our skin?

As we have discussed in previous articles in this series, Candida is a fungus that loves warm, damp conditions. When our immune system is functioning optimally and there is a healthy balance of ‘good’ intestinal bacteria people tend to have clear healthy skin. However, when we have too many ‘bad’ bacteria in our intestines (Candida or yeast infection) we find ourselves susceptible to a whole raft of seemingly unconnected symptoms including skin problems.

Candida generally shows up on the skin as a rash. In babies this is most commonly known as diaper rash – a baby’s bottom will become red, hot and irritated if a wet diaper has been left on too long, especially when it is hot out (creating those warm, damp conditions that Candida loves so much!). However, remembering the connection between the skin and the digestive system it’s significant that food reactions in babies often show up as skin issues in their diaper area as well. And if, as adults we suffer from skin rashes with no apparent cause that won’t heal, or chronic Candida on the skin, then we need to look beyond the symptoms and delve a bit deeper. This is why, when we treat skin conditions, Naturopaths always look to the health of the digestive system, specifically for intestinal yeast overgrowth (or Candida) and food sensitivities.

What Does a Candida Rash Look Like?

The classic Candida rash will be red hot and may have some raised areas rather like hives and there might be white ‘tissue flecks’ on the skin. A Candida rash can show up anywhere on the body but, as we have seen, it particularly likes warm, damp areas such as feet and skin folds around the belly, under the breasts (especially in larger-breasted women) and in the genital area (in both men and women). Many females struggle with chronic vaginal yeast infection (even if they haven’t taken any recent antibiotics). The rash may spread down the legs and, when the weather is hot, cause real irritation. Yeast infections can also occur around the nipple of the breast but this most frequently occurs with nursing a baby.

Sun is often a good anti-fungal (anti-yeast) agent so it is notable that these are all areas that aren’t generally exposed to natural sunlight.

The exception to the general rule that Candida tends to occur in skin folds and warm damp areas of the body is the chest and neck. This type of yeast infection shows up as a flat red rash that can have a speckled appearance. These rashes tend to come and go, and flare up after you have consumed a lot of sugar.

How Do I Know If My Rash Is Caused By Candida?

There are a couple of tests we can do to determine if you have Candida overgrowth in your intestines:

*A simple IgG blood test can tell if you are reacting to yeast; if the body is irritated by yeast it will show up as a positive reaction on the test results.
*Stool testing can also be done to look for the species of yeast that is causing your problems and the quantity of overgrowth.
*In addition to these two tests, if you have a rash skin scraping and lab analysis can be used to determine if there is yeast overgrowth on the skin.

However in my experience, the best way to determine if Candida overgrowth is causing your symptoms is to do a Candida cleanse.

How Do We Treat a Candida Rash?

If you have a skin rash that does not resolve with topical steroids (steroid cream) and anti-fungals, there is a good chance that Candida is the culprit. As we have seen, a warm, damp environment is a breeding ground for Candida, so if you suspect that your rash is caused by Candida, make sure to keep the skin dry. If your skin is severely painful then a short course of an anti-fungal and/or a topical steroid cream may be used to minimize symptoms but the rash will often return after a course of steroids is done.

For chronic symptoms the only way to really clear it up is to do a Candida cleanse to rid your gut of the ‘bad’ bacteria that have infected your digestive system. Remember our embryology lesson at the beginning of this post?

The skin and the digestive system have the same embryological origin so when we treat our gut, our skin gets better.

NB: It is important to note that people with skin rashes caused by Candida should also be evaluated for diabetes as Candida thrives on high sugar content.

As Candida is so often the cause of stubborn rashes, I have designed a special Yeast and Candida Detox Program – a three-tiered treatment that:

*Eliminates the foods that cause the yeast to grow
*Kills off the yeast
*Repopulates the intestines with healthy bacteria

When you treat the Candida, persistent skin rashes can finally clear up. In addition, chronic gas & bloating, vaginal yeast infections, toe nail fungus, brain fog, food allergies and leaky gut should all disappear too.

If you suspect you might have Candida overgrowth and would like to find out more about my specially designed Yeast and Candida Detox Program, please book an appointment today.

I love to read your comments; if you have any thoughts or experiences you would like to share, or if you have any questions, please use the comments box below.

Next time we will look at the connection between Candida and inability to lose weight, we will ask “Is Candida the cause?” To be sure you don’t miss it you can subscribe to this blog on this page and have it sent directly to your inbox.

 

Author Dr. Maura Scanlan

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