Light Therapy to Kill Fungus

By Eric Feigenbaum

Two of the least attractive words in the English language: fungal infection. It's nobody's favorite topic. But if you are unfortunate enough to face one, then you want quick, effective help. New research is developing a treatment using full spectrum light instead of medications to combat fungal infections. Could helping your fungus see the light set you free?

Fungal Infections

Athlete's foot, ringworm, jock itch and toe nail fungus are some of the most common skin-deep fungal infections. But there also exist more serious ones like Cryptococcus neoformans--a fungus which attacks the central nervous system and is becoming more prevalent in AIDS patients.

Many varieties of rarer fungal infections exist within all parts of the body and can often result from a compromised immune system, or in other cases a lot of sweaty skin which needs to get dry and breathe.

Light and Dark

Mushrooms often grow in dark, moist land. So do many other fungi-- including many of the ones that invade human bodies. For some fungi--like athlete's foot--simply keeping feet dry and exposed to light can make a huge difference. So, the concept goes that for fungi which have light sensitivity in their genes, ultraviolet light can be an inhibitor of growth, or even a cure.

Researchers at Duke University published a March 15, 2005 article in Public Library of Science Biology which chronicled their discovery that changes in light after a human is infected with a fungus are key to the development or arrest of the infection. Their findings suggest that full-spectrum light therapy may be an effective treatment for fungal infections.

Risks and Warnings

So far, no there are no medically approved light treatments for fungal infections. Most of the work in this area is still experimental. Some use of ultraviolet light exists for treating nail fungus--but usually only in extreme cases. Why?

Ultraviolet light has risks. It causes skin cancer. It damages skin cells. By definition, it is radiation. Any use of UV light therapy, or thoughts on using full spectrum light, on fungal infections should be discussed with a dermatologist or other knowledgeable, licensed physician.

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