Monday, November 26, 2012

Itchy skin resolution

Recently I've come to believe I've had a fungal infection that caused itchiness and rashes pretty much everywhere on my body. The worst spots have variously been:
  • Underarms
  • Back of calf
  • Back of upper arms, shoulders
To a lesser extent:
  • Upper back
  • Inside of knee
  • Outside of thigh
  • Back of hands
For some time, I didn't know what this problem was.  But at some point, I began to think the moist underarm location was telling me something.  After some internet searching along these lines, I tried using OTC anti-fungals (athlete's foot/tinea corporis: terbinafine, clotrimazole and tolnaftate). These actually helped a lot.  In many cases, the problem did not recur in place where I put cream.  But after some point the itchy spots didn't completely improve as much as I wanted. I think the fungus may have gotten used to/resistant to the creams and just danced around to other places where I hadn't used them. Still, the creams were still able to make itching stop after about 10 minutes whenever it came, usually every day sometime before going to bed.  This of course is a great relief.

I have also tried with some success, selenium sulfide ("selsun blue").  I do get a tingly feeling after some time when applying it.  I think it bears further investigation perhaps with more liberal application (it's inexpensive).  What's preventing it?  The stuff smells, well, like sulfur, and so it's not so nice.  On the other hand, one does get desperate.

I also started taking garlic pills (Nature Made from Costco, 2 pill/day). This seemed to knock the itch down pretty well and rashes are much much more infrequent. After a warm shower, I still get red spots, so the thing is still there, but still much less itchy and life is definitely more liveable.

Why did I try garlic pills? I had read on the internet that garlic is a great anti-fungal for plants. You can use the juice or ground up raw garlic to coat a plant to prevent fungal attacks. I figured ingesting garlic should be fine and it helps for preventing heart disease anyway so nothing to lose. The pills are coated so you don't get garlic breath (as far as I know, heh, heh).


If you've seen the BBC Planet Earth series or read a recent NY Times article, you'll notice that fungal infections can take over organisms and make zombies of them. Didn't they say garlic is good against Vampires?  Perhaps Vampires are a kind of zombie where the human mind is taken over by a fungus and made to desire blood through biting (thereby further transmitting the fungus as well).  Nevertheless, I have not had the urge to bite anyone recently as far as I remember and not even before I started taking garlic.


Something else I noticed is that there are other people who seem to have my same problem.  I recognize the same involuntary, unstoppable scratching in the particular areas mentioned.  The internet says fungal infections can be contagious.