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The Possible Role of Candida in Seborrheic Dermatitis Progression

Book Extract

This article is an extract from: Seborrheic Dermatitis - The Owner's Manual; a book dedicated to understanding seborrheic dermatitis. See the book overview page for more information.

Candida and its potential role in seborrheic dermatitis seems to be a fairly commonly discussed topic across the internet. However, before getting too carried away with this prognosis it may be worthwhile to review all the facts and controversies surrounding this topic.

What is Candida

Candida is species of yeast and is one of the most common fungal infections worldwide. It can be a real threat for immunosuppressed individuals and the widespread use of antibiotics has in-fact promoted its growth in the last century as some online resources suggest.

Its virulence factor (it’s level of threat and ability to infect) stems from its ability to survive in a variety of different environments [1]. For example, E. coli may be able to survive in the human gut, but would have trouble in other organs and environments; Candida, on the other hand, is much more versatile and can adapt to not only live within the gut, but also the skin, genital area, and many other areas of our bodies [2].

For reference, here are some of the more common forms of candida infection and the areas that it can occur:

  • Mouth – Thrush (oropharyngeal candidiasis)
  • Genitals – penile or vaginal candidiasis
  • Skin – cutaneous candidiasis
  • Organs, eyes, brain, and bones – intensive candidiasis
  • Nails – Onychomycosis (nail candidiasis)

Similar to the Malassezia yeast, a variety of Candida sub-species exist (over 20 species are currently known to have the potential of causing infection in humans). The most popular of these species is Candida albicans, but other strains also deserve attention.

The importance of other species of Candida is probably best demonstrated by individuals who undergo anti-fungal therapy. In this individuals, some of the other less discussed Candida species (such as Candida parapsilosis [3] or Candida Krusei [4]) may actually present more of a threat [5]. And this has been hypothesized to be a result of the anti-fungals ability to wipe out competing species with less harmful aspects, leaving behind more aggressive fungi who are allowed to dominate the vacant environment.

Examining the Evidence for Candida’s Role in Seborrheic Dermatitis

When it comes to Candida’s role in seborrheic dermatitis development there are some online resources that have made very clear and critical assumptions that this yeast could solely be responsible for seborrheic dermatitis. But can this really be the case and could decades of research in the area really have left this important connection undiscovered?

Looking at the medical research on this topic does reveal some interesting findings.

A Germany paper from 1989 [6] noted that Candida in the intestine of examined individuals with either seborrheic dermatitis or psoriasis showed a significantly higher phospholipase activity – compared to the laboratory strain that is already relatively high in phospholipase activity. At the same time, the feces of these individuals showed a high quantity of Candida yeast.

Apart from this, there does not appear to be any additional discussion or research into this topic since. The only other clue from a possible connection could be considered as the high rate of both candidiasis and seborrheic dermatitis occurring concurrently in HIV infected individuals.

A Different Way of Looking at a Possible Connection Between Candida and Seborrheic Dermatitis

While one study that suggests a possible connection may exist is far from anything substantial, some individuals may take the information and become convinced that Candida is really the source of all their troubles.

However, if we take into consideration everything that is so far known about seborrheic dermatitis (namely, being directly related to Malassezia fungus, alerted immune function, and increased levels of lipid oxidation) and that look at the relationship from a different perspective the cause-effect relationship becomes even more uncertain.

The other way of looking at this relationship is that increased candida presence and seborrheic dermatitis could easily be the result of an altered/abnormal immune function. And this more fundamental issue is what results in increased susceptibility to fungi.

From this point-of-view, seborrheic dermatitis would not be considered to be the result of candida infection, but two separate issues driven by a similar underlying factor (whatever is it making us susceptible to increased fungal colonization).

Going Overboard on the Candida Diagnosis Train

Unfortunately, it seems that the holistic and natural health market has really capitalized on Candida’s existence and versatility. And many recent publications on the topic of health and nutrition have touted Candida as the cause of a wide variety of symptoms including everything from feeling tired to arthritis. This list of health issues that Candida is believed to be responsible for has grown so large that almost any ailment you might have, you can almost certainly find someone blaming Candida.

Taking advantage of this trend, many support sources and self-treatment discussion boards have popped up across the web. Even though these discussion boards can sometimes contain valuable information, it can be easy to get carried away with uneducated speculation.

In turn, this speculation can create a myriad of distraught thoughts, discussions, ideas, and can in-itself lead to self-propelled phobias [7]. These phobias then put your body and nervous system on high alert throughout the day and may lead to unnecessary stress, anxiety, and nutrient deprivation.

The Candida Self-Test Debunked

The most popular method self-test for Candida is a simple spit test that is exceptionally popular online. This method has absolutely no validity and was actually created as a marketing tool by a creative company (Global Health Trax Inc) in the 90s. Unsurprisingly, the company’s main product is ThreeLac, a simple probiotic product for regulating digestive microflora and fighting Candida.

Bringing Reason into the Candida Equation

If you believe you have a Candida infection (also known as candidiasis) the most reasonable thing to do is to undergo medical testing and spending time obtaining a more accurate diagnosis.

Going off of a hunch and perusing treatment without an accurate diagnosis could theoretically leave you in a worse place as you could be clearing the way for more opportunistic fungi by going the route of self-treatment with anti-fungal herbals and unprescribed medication.

Plus, the accuracy of modern medical testing is fairly good and definitely beats the dominating “self-test” published across the web. So if you really do think you have candidiasis, schedule a meeting with a local medical professional and get your theory tested.

Section Summary

This section provided a quick introduction to the Candida fungal species, its potential role as a human pathogen, and reviewed the potential link between Candida and seborrheic dermatitis.

Key takeaways include:

  1. Candida is a common fungal infection and its ability to survive a wide range of environments is a big contributing factor
  2. While Candida albicans is the most discussed strain, other strains could present more of a threat in certain cases
  3. Candida infection has been a trending topic in the natural health industry, however, erroneous assumptions can lead to mistreatment and unnecessary anxiety
  4. Some older literature has alluded to a possible relationship between abnormal intestinal candida presence and seborrheic dermatitis
  5. The relationship between Candida and seborrheic dermatitis needs to be evaluated further before any real conclusions can be made
  6. If you believe you are facing Candida issues, you should discuss this with your doctor and get your diagnosis confirmed prior to treatment

Book Extract

This article is an extract from: Seborrheic Dermatitis - The Owner's Manual; a book dedicated to understanding seborrheic dermatitis. See the book overview page for more information.

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  1. R A Calderone, W A Fonzi "Virulence factors of Candida albicans." Trends in microbiology 9.7 (2001): 327-35. PubMed
  2. M Nucci, E Anaissie "Revisiting the source of candidemia: skin or gut?" Clinical infectious diseases : an official publication of the Infectious Diseases Society of America 33.12 (2002): 1959-67. PubMed
  3. David Trofa, Attila Gácser, Joshua D Nosanchuk "Candida parapsilosis, an emerging fungal pathogen." Clinical microbiology reviews 21.4 (2008): 606-25. PubMed
  4. M A Pfaller, D J Diekema, D L Gibbs, V A Newell, E Nagy, S Dobiasova, M Rinaldi, R Barton, A Veselov "Candida krusei, a multidrug-resistant opportunistic fungal pathogen: geographic and temporal trends from the ARTEMIS DISK Antifungal Surveillance Program, 2001 to 2005." Journal of clinical microbiology 46.2 (2008): 515-21. PubMed
  5. M H Nguyen, J E Peacock, A J Morris, D C Tanner, M L Nguyen, D R Snydman, M M Wagener, M G Rinaldi, V L Yu "The changing face of candidemia: emergence of non-Candida albicans species and antifungal resistance." The American journal of medicine 100.6 (1996): 617-23. PubMed
  6. M Buslau, H Hänel, H Holzmann "[The significance of yeasts in seborrheic eczema]." Der Hautarzt; Zeitschrift fur Dermatologie, Venerologie, und verwandte Gebiete 40.10 (1990): 611-3. PubMed
  7. C Seebacher "[Mycophobia–a new disease?]." Mycoses 39 Suppl 1 (1997): 30-2. PubMed
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About Michael Anders

After being affected by seborrheic dermatitis, I have made it my goal to gather and organize all the information that has helped me in my journey.

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