A Sweet Way to Soothe Skin Infections
A mixture of honey, olive oil, and beeswax may help heal fungal infections of the skin, according to Complementary Therapies in Medicine (2004;12:45–7). The same mixture has also been used successfully to treat other skin conditions including eczema and psoriasis. Fungal infections of the skin can cause discomfort and unsightly rashes. The affected areas may be itchy, blotchy, blistered, or red. Some fungal infections are spread from animals to humans; they may also be transferred from person to person, or from one body part to another. Warm, moist areas (such as the groin region or between the toes) give infection-causing fungi a perfect environment in which to grow and thrive. Long-term use of corticosteroid-containing medications like prednisone also increase the risk of developing fungal infections. People with HIV disease and diabetes are particularly prone to certain fungal skin infections. Fungi are known to increase the production of inflammatory substances in the skin.
Most of these infections can be treated with over-the-counter topical medicated creams and lotions such as miconazole (Micatin™). For more severe conditions, stronger drugs may be prescribed such as oral fluconazole (Diflucan™). Fluconazole is associated with some serious side effects including liver damage, seizures, and rashes.
Honey has been shown to inhibit the growth of bacteria, yeast, and fungi. It also speeds wound healing and contains substances known to protect cells. Olive oil and beeswax both contain compounds that have anti-inflammatory actions in the body.
The current study examined the effect of a topical application of a honey, olive oil, and beeswax mixture on fungal infections of the skin. Four different infections were studied, including tinea versicolor (an infection that causes blotchiness), tinea corporis (also known as ringworm), tinea cruris (jock itch), and tinea facialis (ringworm of the face). Thirty-seven people completed the four-week trial. Participants were instructed to apply a mixture of equal parts of pure honey, cold-pressed olive oil, and beeswax to the affected areas three times per day. The amounts of redness, scaling, pain or burning, and itching were assessed before the study, weekly during the study, and four weeks after its completion. Fungi presence was evaluated by examining skin scrapings under the microscope at the same intervals. The participants were considered cured when their symptoms became mild or disappeared and when no fungi were visible on microscopic examination.
After treatment with the honey mixture, 79% of the people with tinea versicolor, 71% of those with tinea cruris, and 62% of those with tinea corporis were cured of their infections. The one participant with tinea facialis was also cured after four weeks of treatment. The results were maintained four weeks after use of the honey mixture was discontinued. The mixture used in this study is not yet commercially available; however, it may be made easily at home by combining equal parts of melted beeswax with pure olive oil and raw honey. Adding a few drops of vitamin E oil will increase the shelf-life of the product.
Kimberly Beauchamp, ND, received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Rhode Island and her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University in Kenmore, WA. She is a co-founder and practicing physician at South County Naturopaths, Inc., in Wakefield, RI. Dr. Beauchamp teaches holistic medicine classes and provides consultations focusing on detoxification and whole-foods nutrition.
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