Out damned spot (of redness, all over my face)
September 27, 2010 11:29 AM   Subscribe

Does an anti fungal diet work in treating seborrheic dermatitis?

I am a 21 year old male. I have had seborrheic dermatitis for years now, since I was about 13 or 14, and in largely the same areas: on the skin that is between my cheeks and the side of my nose, and some other much smaller spots on my neck.

Now though it is the worst it has ever been, it has spread to my neck, forehead, scalp and eyebrows, the whole thing is a complete mess.
I have acted on the advice of numerous doctors for years, using hydrocortisone cream to reduce the redness for far far far longer than I should have, and I have finally stopped using it (It doesn't work any longer anyway).
I have been using an Oilatum cream that gives some success, sometimes, and an anti fungal called Daktarin for about a week, yet it is a terrible state at the moment. I am aware of what causes it, and am just looking for a remedy that can give me a face with normal, non red skin, without it coming back a few days later.

I was reading online to see how diet impacted it because my latest break out is really awful, and I saw a lot of noise about yeast build up in the intestines causing these symptoms, especially the one called Candida.
A lot of the internet doctor sites advocated an anti fungal diet, where I am basically not allowed to eat anything that contains sugar or yeast, and it adds up to a pretty huge list.

Since the internet doctor sites blend very much with medical quakery and alternative medicine advice, I want to ask here if the anti fungal diet is really worth it. I must admit, all the explanations of the sugar feeding the yeast which releases histamines which cause the redness sounds pretty sensical to me, but I am just a student and not a doctor.

So yeah, is this diet the fix I have been looking for for seven/eight years? Is there something else I can do to get rid of this very embarrassing skin disorder?
posted by tumples to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I have seborrheic dermatitis also, although to a much lesser degree. I share your skepticism about the various "anti-candida" sites out there. However, I have noticed that improving my nutrition has improved my symptoms somewhat.

Basically, eating lots of refined carbs/sugars/junk makes things worse, and taking a b-vitamin supplement and fish oil supplements has helped. I don't buy the "don't eat yeast!" thing, except insofar as most foods that contain yeast tend to be high in carbs (i.e. bread and beer). I tried this approach for another reason (I wanted improved mood/fewer blood sugar swings) and my skin improved as an added bonus.

I did not do the hard-core "antifungal diet", but gradually changed the focus of my diet to protein and vegetables, with whole grains and fruit playing a supporting role. I try to limit sweets and alcohol, but I'm not a puritan about it.

It's not gone - if I eat poorly or fail to manage stress, the inflammation and flakiness come back - but it's now manageable. I don't know that it's a magic bullet, but a sensible, gradual change in eating habits is a pretty benign approach. Even if it doesn't work, you'll be healthier overall.
posted by Knicke at 11:57 AM on September 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

As soon as something is proven to have statistically significant benefits, doctors will generally start recommending it. If your doctor has not recommended this to you, I wouldn't put much stock in it.
posted by valkyryn at 11:59 AM on September 27, 2010

MeFites are going to point to the evidence base being insufficient to recommend a dietary change, but honestly, if you have exhausted all other possibilities offered by your dermatologist, why not try it? Also, have you seen a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner? Again, this isn't about which clinical trials have and have not been done and whether Quackwatch approves. If you are suffering, l suggest you leave no stone unturned.
posted by Wordwoman at 12:06 PM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

I can't comment on the anti fungal diet, but i can say that there are two types of Daktarin cream. I use the daktarin gold which I find significantly better than the other one. If you aren't using it already I would suggest swapping. Even if I haven't had an outbreak, I usually apply it thinly to know outbreak areas once a week or so. Generally I only get the telltale itchiness now, if apply the gold cream in the evening, and once again in the morning, generally no redness, scaley skin etc has a chance to appear.
posted by SecretsKill at 12:07 PM on September 27, 2010

As soon as something is proven to have statistically significant benefits, doctors will generally start recommending it. If your doctor has not recommended this to you, I wouldn't put much stock in it.

The evidence base suggests otherwise. Example.
posted by Wordwoman at 12:13 PM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Tumples, thank you for asking this one - I've been meaning to, but just hadn't gotten around to doing so. I have recurring skin issues and a co-worker *highly* recommended that I try out the Anti-Candida diet she did. She credits the diet with changing her life in very positive ways.

At her recommendation, I bought a book called: "The Complete Candida Yeast Guidebook". I got about fifty pages into it before I marked some of the author's claims: 'Crazy!' and 'What? This is nuts!' in the margins. Most of those claims were along the lines of: "The human digestive system is inefficient and will become clogged with fecal matter...." (that's a massive paraphrase).

However, I've tried antibiotics, anti-fungals and a strict regimen of cleansing. My diet is pretty darned good: high fiber, low fat, lots of whole foods and very little overly-processed crap. But the skin infections/irritations keep coming back. I'm now reconsidering the Anti-Candida diet. Good luck to you in sorting out what you can and cannot eat on it! I know I'll need lots of help from my co-worker. (Future conversation: Me: "Wait... I can't have an apple? Are you nuts? ...I can't have nuts either?" *headdesk*).
posted by LOLAttorney2009 at 6:14 PM on September 27, 2010

Anecdata: this program completely healed a friends' late-in-life-onset of severe eczema. (Now that i think about it, he took this liver tonic too.) The site author sells supplements but you can always substitute like things from your local health-food store. A very important notion in diets like this is 'food combining,' started, i believe, by proponets of 'natural hygene.' Basically, fruit is always eaten alone on an empty stomach, as it is the fastest to digest; conversely it will ferment when combined with protein or starch. Concentrated protein (meat etc) or concentrated starches (pasta, potatoes, etc) may be eaten with vegetables but never with each other. It is completely contrary to the way we are programmed to eat in the u.s.! But the explanation is that combining concentrated foods leads to incomplete digestion (the breakdown juices for each category fight and cancel each other out) thus leading to lots of fodder for candida always in the intestine. IANY doctor, nutritionist, etc. best of luck beating this!
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 10:12 PM on September 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

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