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If You’ve Ever Eaten Sugar, You Probably Have Candida Symptoms (Yes, You. You in the Chair. Read This.)

Have you ever heard of candida? If you’ve ever eaten sugar, you might have it! Check out the symptoms and treatment options.

When I had a rash on the back of my neck at the hairline, something had to change. 

rash on back of neck at hairline

I always thought I was in excellent health.

I am not overweight. My cholesterol numbers make doctors weep with joy.

I made it through a year of student teaching without taking a sick day, and everyone knows schools are dens of supergerms.

I had four healthy, fairly easy pregnancies with quick weight loss and recovery afterward.

My genes are strong as all get out, as evidenced by an aunt who downhill skis in her 70s, another (older) aunt who is on her feet all day in retail, and the fact that the only regular prescription my dad had by the time he turned 70 was for reading glasses.

And I certainly didn’t have any food sensitivities or weak stomach issues.

I got a little big-headed about it, I imagine, thinking I was akin to Superwoman in the physical health category.

I suffered with a bit of the “I’m invincible” fallacy that adolescents often struggle with when they get their driver’s licenses.

Until I got into all this natural health stuff, I didn’t realize that the fact that I usually evacuated my bowels once a day meant that I was constipated my whole life.

Stinky feet? Just wore shoes that didn’t breathe.

A bit addicted to sweets, especially chocolate? Not a problem – isn’t everyone?

I never would have read anything about candida from the first person perspective, wondering if I had it.

Until this happened:

awful candida rash on neck

Awful Rash on Back of Neck at Hairline! 

Awful Rash on Back of Neck at Hairline

What started two years prior as an annoying itchy spot at the base of my hairline on the back of my neck, correlating roughly to when I started using the “no shampoo” method of washing my hair, suddenly started to get more intense, more itchy, more scaly, and much, much bigger last spring:

I don’t have a photo of it when it was small, the way it probably was for two years. I never saw it. I never had anyone take a look at it to see if it looked odd. I just tolerated it and didn’t take the time to consider it.

When I could feel it being scaly however, I started asking people: “What does this look like to you?

Most of them were pretty frightened.

When I realized one day that it had traveled around the sides of my neck, and even to the front, following the path of the chain on my necklace that I wore constantly, I started to get a little freaked out.

I was a nursing mom; I couldn’t have some contagious fungus or other sort of unknown evil rash that I could pass to my baby!

At some point I called to make an appointment with a dermatologist I had seen before, when I didn’t yet know how to cure warts naturally, and they could fit me in in a few short months.

???

Apparently there are plenty of people with skin issues.

Unfortunately for me, the fact that the rash had now covered my neck and upper chest (top photo) and was going down my arms made me think I didn’t really have two months to sit around and wonder, “What the heck IS this?”

Candida rash on back of wrist

I had to find someone who would see me immediately, and since I hadn’t found a new doctor when we moved a few months earlier, it was the perfect time.

I had recently written a post on how to find a naturally minded doctor, so I had some phone numbers at my disposal. The naturopath I chose to call was available for an appointment that very day, and I was off to the races.

I also made an appointment with a regular MD locally, just to have something to compare to. Both docs had something to say about my rash within seconds of meeting me, but their thoughts on it couldn’t have been more different.

If you’re looking for some more guided assistance healing from candida, check out The Whole Journey’s Kicking Candida for Good program!

My First Naturopath Appointment

It was one of the most fascinating experiences of my life.

I came home and hugged my husband, looked deep into his blue eyes as he looked questioningly back into my hazel ones, and I announced: “Honey, you married a blue-eyed girl!”

His reaction, also within seconds, was:

“She’s a quack!”

He’s really a very kind and gentle person, but he doesn’t put a lot of stock into natural health stuff until he sees the proof in the pudding.

I held off on calling the Secretary of State to change my driver’s license. 😉

At the appointment, after I learned that I am, in fact, NOT the only person in the family with brown eyes, I sat there listening with what had to have been the goofiest look on my face – a mixture of fascination and trepidation, tinged with joy. And bewilderment.

I even apologized at one point for the wide eyes and creeping grin, saying, “I’m sorry, I’m just so fascinated, but I wish we were talking about someone else!”

Here are some things that are different about a naturopathic appointment vs. a doctor’s appointment:

  • I’m a client, not a patient.
  • I get a suggestion and advice, not a diagnosis and prescription.
  • Dr. Kathryn looked at the striations on my eyes to learn about my health, which is when she told me that genetically, I have blue eyes. The rim around my iris is most certainly navy blue, surprise, surprise! The “hazel” is just other variations covering the blue. That means we have 100% chance of having a blue-eyed child if God has a fourth in mind for us!
  • She looked at my fingernails. Bet no one other than your beautician has done that before! My pointer finger has always had some sort of curve to it, which seemed significant to her.
  • Somehow she determined that I didn’t have enough hydrochloric acid. I can’t remember how, but I wrote it down…that may have something to do with the fact that beets turn my urine pink (did you know that’s not normal?) and impacts digestion.
  • There was no blood pressure taking or weighing, but there was a kind of spooky “compass electron” machine (or something like that) that read…something in my body…honestly, my notes on paper have been lost, my notes in the computer are missing, and most of the photos I took of the rash as it changed are also AWOL, so the details will be a little sketchier than I’d planned. Still trying to figure out God’s plan for all those misplaced resources…
  • Dr. Kathryn DID look into my mouth, but she wasn’t looking at my tonsils or my throat – she wanted to see my tongue. She saw some streaks, maybe (my memory is being challenged tonight) and said that they were a sign that the same thing was present all down my esophagus and through the digestive system, demonstrating a candida overgrowth (& that my digestive system was damaged because of it) —

Which is what she said practically before even bothering to take a look at the rash when I first sat down and explained it to her.

Sound like voodoo? It felt like it, just a little. But no more than a blood test seems ethereal and unknown to someone who is not trained in medicine.

Why wouldn’t the body, made by an omniscient, omnipotent God, have ways of telling us what’s wrong with it? I liken this experience to how Natural Family Planning helps me to read my own fertility – it’s our bodies’ clues to what’s going on inside.

And my body’s verdict? Blue eyes, candida.

What the M.D. Said

The MD, an elderly gentleman who looked about ready to retire (and did within months, I understand), whizzed in, listened half-heartedly for a minute while I explained things, made some disturbing “wow” and “erm” sort of noises as he looked at it, asked in a shocked tone, “Does that hurt?” and quickly began writing a prescription for a steroid cream.

Y’all saw that coming, right?

He did ask all sorts of questions about whether I had tried a new laundry detergent or come into contact with any chemicals lately (again, tried to explain our chemical-free household, don’t think he quite got the gist). He told me I had a probable allergy to something and that the scaly area on the back of my neck looked like psoriasis.

He recommended that I see a dermatologist and said that when I did, they’d start with a steroid cream, so I could tell them that I had already tried that. (Is there an element of defeatism there, as if he thought what he was giving me wouldn’t work anyway?) I tried to explain that I probably wouldn’t fill the prescription, but we really weren’t communicating all that well, and I left wondering why I had bothered going in in the first place.

Diagnosis? Probable allergy to unknown substance, psoriasis.

How the two things could possibly be unrelated, I’ll never know. In my mind, one clearly stemmed from the other. I felt much more at peace with the naturopath’s explanation, and the fact that she had many ideas about how to tackle the problem, rather than one catch-all that would have been prescribed for any skin issue.

Catch Part 2 of this story here. And Part 3.

What Is Candida Anyway? What Are the Symptoms?

Candida is a yeast that is part of our natural flora, which means it’s present in our bodies naturally. In this case, both externally and internally.

The problem that is happening when people say, “I have candida,” is really an overgrowth of yeast, which causes an imbalance and begins a domino effect of other problems. It’s called “candidiasis” or a candida yeast infection.

Symptoms of candida include:

  • acne
  • brain fog
  • athlete’s foot
  • cradle cap
  • diabetes
  • diaper rash
  • eczema
  • fatigue
  • fungal nail infections
  • heartburn
  • joint pain
  • migraines
  • psoriasis
  • respiratory problems
  • sinus congestion
  • thrush
  • UTIs
  • and more… <source

RELATED: Stomach Pain After Eating

Some say candida overgrowth and especially all these symptoms are literally a hoax, a relationship that doesn’t even exist that natural health practitioners use to describe any skin ailment whatsoever. There is little clinical evidence that an anti-candida diet, for example, does any good with a candida yeast infection, or that these infections can cause symptoms beyond the visible, physical symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection or thrush in the mouth.

However – perhaps that’s because there is little funding for clinical trials that don’t involve buying a product or pharmaceutical to cure a disease.

I know or have heard of too many people who have mitigated or cured their candida symptoms with an anti-candida diet to believe that it’s a non-existent problem.

Candida yeast feeds on sugar, which is a primary culprit as far as causes of overgrowth, along with antibiotics, birth control, steroids, and pregnancy.

And that brings me back to the title of the post – I am getting a sneaking suspicion that our general gut balance as a nation is probably declining as the generations pass and our diets get worse.

It is likely that if I have a yeast imbalance of some sort, that I passed that on to my children, even though we are all now eating fairly well. Since I never fully addressed/eradicated my candida overgrowth, I have children with eczema, cradle cap, etc.

I was formula-fed (mom tried, but it wasn’t meant to be, and that’s okay) and ate white sugar all my life, and if my kids, who were fully breastfed and ate very little white sugar (if any, depending on the kid) before their first birthday, have issues with gut imbalance, what of the children of my generation who are sucking down sugary drinks and white flour munchies all day long from toddlerdom on? Then they’ll pass their messed-up flora on to their own kids, who will feed that yeast overgrowth with more sugar, and won’t it just keep getting worse? (Pregnancy can be one of the causal factors of candida, too, by the way.)

awful rash on back of neck at hairline, wrist, hand, and chest, Natural remedies for candida rash

I’m hoping to break the cycle in my own family, but not everyone has the knowledge or dedication to do so. (I’m still not quite sure if I do, as a matter of fact…)

To make matters worse, parasites feast on sugar as well, so they can be a confounding factor in all of this! Check the symptoms of parasites to see if that may be an issue for you.

I Don’t Want to Heal Myself!

…because natural health can be tricky.

When I was working on fighting my candida (don’t worry, I will tell you how I did it eventually. I don’t look like a shiny red alligator anymore.), I felt a little “in over my head” and emailed Dr. Kathryn with some questions. She was very kind and thorough, and at the end of her email, she wrote: “I hope that I can continue to help you navigate how best to heal yourself.”

It just about put me over the edge.

I know she meant it as a nice gesture, but at that point, I was so overwhelmed by the simple fact that when treating yourself, you have to figure out what’s working, what isn’t, what do try next…keeping my brain so engaged was exhausting! I get it – why people just want a prescription and rules to follow from their docs. The responsibility of home doctoring is heavy on my shoulders and taxing on my brain.

My reaction to the email (in my head) was, “I don’t want to figure out how to heal myself! I just want to get better!”

Now that I’m on the other end, I’m glad I did it, but I still didn’t like it. In case that makes anyone out there feel better about their natural health attitude.

‘Cause mine stinks.

Like my feet used to.

Natural Remedies to Fight a Candida Rash

Remember that my awful rash was simply one sign that I was fighting candida internally, so just treating the rash would have been masking the symptom, but not addressing the root. Ironically, a naturopath would be similar to an MD in that they do look at most skin problems as a “one size fits all” issue – “the skin is trying to eliminate something from inside the body. What it is trying to eliminate and how it eliminates it are what determine how the skin appears.”

I asked Dr. Kathryn via email about her thoughts on psoriasis, because I was surprised to hear that diagnosis from the MD. She replied with the above quote plus:

In Psoriasis, the toxins in the bloodstream attach to cell receptor sites making the cells appear foreign to the immune system so it targets them for destruction at the same time triggering other hormones to increase skin cell growth. Thus you get the scales along with the redness and inflammation. Eczema and other dermatitis issues are more of the direct attempt at removal of toxins and pathogens. So you can see that in natural health we are going to address the toxins, acids, and pathogens in the bloodstream to improve the health of the skin. So it doesn’t really matter what “name” it is given. The cause is still much the same.

Therefore, to fight the candida rash, we needed to address the internal issues. Anytime you want to kick candida out of one’s system, you need a three-pronged approach against those toxins and pathogens:

  1. Starve.
  2. Kill.
  3. Rebuild.

It’s a bit less war-like than it sounds, but almost as fun as “you sank my Battleship!”

Maybe a supplement? Balance One has a Candida Cleanse supplement that looks very promising, and they’ve offered Kitchen Stewardship® readers a great coupon! Use the code KITCHENS15 to save 15%! The code works either on Amazon or on the Balance One website! (If checking out on Amazon, enter the code at checkout, not on the product page.)


Some Quality Probiotics

Some of these I’ve used, some I’m planning to use, and some have been recommended by friends and professionals alike. It’s good to remember a few things about probiotics: 1. People should get different colonies of probiotics, so switching brands/strains every so often (6 weeks?) is good practice. 2. What works great for one person’s needs doesn’t always work for another. These can be very different! A one-day trial to Probiotic Advisor might help you get up on current research quickly if you’re really digging in; otherwise, here are some to narrow down the thousands of brands out there. 

I’ve personally tried:

  • Just Thrive Probiotics – this one can be taken during antibiotics and not be rendered ineffective, which almost all other probiotics are! It’s the top recommended probiotic overall by Paleo Mom Sarah Ballantyne. 😮 (Be sure to use the code Katie15 for 15% off; also found on Amazon and from Perfect Supplements where you can use the coupon KS10 for 10% off!)
  • RightBioticsRX – the top recommended probiotic of all soil-based options by an expert I’ve been working with. Read more here. Use Subscribe and Save to save more!
  • Note: If you’re struggling with digestion, especially constipation, or you feel like you really need to populate your gut with healthy probiotics, I would recommend Saccharomyces Boulardii in addition to any other you choose (except the 2 above which include this strain). Saccharomyces Boulardii is research-proven to get through the digestive tract without being killed, which is rare. 
  • Seed Daily Synbiotic – the new player in the field but recommended by superstars like Chris Kresser for its unique probiotic/prebiotic synergy. Here’s my full review including a number of surprises for my thinking and a 15% off code!
  • Balance One probiotics with a unique time-release formula (use the code KITCHENS15 at either Balance One’s site or even Amazon to save 15% either place! Wow! Use the code at checkout on Amazon btw.)

For Little Ones (we use all of these):

  • Mary Ruth’s liquid probiotic is a soil-based, liquid probiotic that doesn’t need to be refrigerated and tastes like…nothing! It’s my new favorite for administering to kids! ((Use code KCRF15 for 15% off!)
  • WellBelly by WellFuture (9 strains of probiotics in apple and banana carrier – it’s a powder)
  • Buddies in my Belly probiotic powder (2 strains of probiotics + potato starch carrier and prebiotics) or chewable tablets

Recommended by experts I trust:

UPDATE: A few years later, the rash came back:

rash on back of neck at hairline

Part Two…

Here’s how I battled candida both internally and externally, plus reader recommendations and resources. It will answer all your questions…or at least the ones I experienced and have half a clue about! 😉 

Here are some further tips to fight candida and yeast (an ongoing process for me right now).

Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.
Category: Natural Health

28 thoughts on “If You’ve Ever Eaten Sugar, You Probably Have Candida Symptoms (Yes, You. You in the Chair. Read This.)”

  1. I am looking for a natural doctor and am close to the Grand Rapids area who is Dr. Kathrin that you saw? Do you still see her? I’m fighting a rash that is covering now about a 1/3 of my body and no one knows what it is.

    1. Dr. Kathryn is an ND (I think) from Elder and Sage. I have no idea if that’s still there or if she’s still in practice though.

      Recently I’ve battled the worst rash I’ve ever experienced, and this homeopathy protocol has been a godsend:
      https://kellythekitchenkop.com/more-how-to-help-eczema-with-homeopathy/

      I wish I had other ideas for you, but finding natural healthcare is very tricky, I’ve discovered.

  2. Mariana Sfera Jovanovic

    OMG! Just started taking S. Boulardi a few days ago and already see a difference in my scalp. I suffered with the condition for over 30 years. Received various diagnoses but refused medication. I used creams and shampoos, and then started looking into supplements. These helped manage the condition and keep it local to the scalp area, with occasional spread to ears and neck below hairline. A functional doctor put me on an AIP protocol that did not produce much improvement. I have taken probiotics, enzymes and a bunch of other supplements like Oregon Grape Root and Sarsaparilla. Nothing came close to the results I have seen with S. Boulardi. Thank you so much for the article and advice. You can’t even imagine what relief and joy this brings into my daily life. Mariana

    1. Carolyn @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Oh wow! I’m so glad you’ve found some relief! Thanks so much for sharing your experience with us.

  3. I literally thought someone had confiscated pics of the rash on my neck and posted them! This really looks like the same rash I’ve been experiencing and growing on my neck for several months now! Mine started with a small itchy patch under my jaw and grew angry from there! The only difference in our stories is that you found a good naturopath. I’ve been to two in the past three years who both could have and should have easily diagnosed this as Candida as I had other symptoms. I’m now working with a functional doc who is running tests and other things to treat…and finally getting some relief. The diet isn’t difficult for me since I eat and have been eating low/No sugar since my first bout of Candida almost 10 years ago. Back then sugar WAS the culprit but this time around STRESS is the contributing factor and the stress over the years has been intense! I just wanted to mention that to anyone reading. Stress can be a huge factor in Candida rearing it’s ugly head!

    1. I totally believe that about stress, 100%! I just wanted to share a great resource with you — as a certified Stress Mastery Educator, I made a few quick training videos about stress:
      https://kidscookrealfood.com/stress-mastery-1/
      https://kidscookrealfood.com/stress-mastery-2/

      Hope that’s helpful!
      🙂 Katie

  4. Thanks for this. It’s helpful!! I notuced, though, you mentioned your baby having eczema… Have you looked into side effects of vaccines? Eczema is a very common side effect.

    1. Hi Charity,
      My kids all have had eczema here and there, but it’s all dissipated. They are vaccinated to various extents, but the baby not at all in this story. My guess, now that we’ve discovered environmental allergies, is that there is a link there.
      Thanks,
      Katie

  5. This is psoriasis on your neck. Not every steroid will work, so just because it didn’t doesn’t mean it’s not psoriasis. Treat that, not candida. There are herbs and other things that can help with psoriais.

  6. They say vaginal yeast infections can be contagious … through intimacy & even sharing clothes, such as jeans, swimsuits, etc. which haven’t been washed & dried on the “hot” setting.

    This brings up the issue of how all of us should handle household cleaning when someone has a Candida problem.

    If you have it *on your skin* it’ll end up on all your household surfaces, right? Whether walking barefoot, sitting on the furnitire or the loo, and certainly your tub or shower, where it’s steamy & wet after you bathe. Even the bar of soap or the razor.

    If it’s infected your mouth, throat or esophagus (“Thrush”) then it’ll surely be in your toothbrush, and maybe even if Candida is generally overgrown throughout the body.

    And the air we breathe passes in & out over the warm, moist mucous membranes, which are thriving places for Candida… which we them exhale throughout the home.

    SO, do Candida spores die off when they leave our bodies? Do they lay dormant? Or do they remain in our bedding, clothing, carpets, etc. til cleaned with hot water or an antifungal agent?

    Think about hairbrushes, clips, etc…

    Kinda creepy thinking about it!

  7. She said starve, kill and rebuild! That means no sugar, starch, processed foods, breads etc. meats veggies and fruits only. Limit the fruits. She said that candida lives off sugar. Drink lots of water. Only eat healthy fats like organic coconut oil, olive oil and grassfed butter. No artificial sugars either. Start a probiotic to put back the healthy bacteria. Doing this will cure thecandida. If you need lotion for itchy skin use the coconut oil instead. it will sooth plus kill off the bad .

  8. Thanks so much for this, Katie! The photos helped me realize I indeed had a candida rash again, and even your detail about the necklace spreading the rash was true in my case too.
    I found that applying food-grade diatomaceous earth, being careful not to breathe it in, really helped dry it up in my case. I also avoided getting the affected area wet, took lots of crushed garlic and followed the candida diet guidelines. Next time I get an irritated spot on my neck, I’ll know right away.

  9. Mariya Alexa

    I enjoyed reading your story and can relate to a lot of it. I have known I’ve had candida since I was 20 and I’m now 39. I just didn’t realize how bad it could get if you don’t heal the gut. 2 yrs ago, I developed a bad rash that became chronic. My diagnosis was psoriasis, tho it wasn’t 100% because my insurance ran out so I just dealt with it. I started doing research on candida and psoriasis. To make a long story short, I’ve been on a carb free, gf, dairy free,yeast free, starch free diet. The flares simmer down when I eat this way (which can be torture- I won’t lie) I’m starting to believe that I do not have psoriasis because this is just a bad yeast/fungal/candida rash. It’s almost all gone because of my diet…

  10. christinamom7

    I’ve been suffering with candida and yeast imbalance for some time and have tried a number of remedies recommended by my Naturopath. I was keen to the Lady Soma Candida Cleanse, because it is an all in one candida cleanse, containing anti-fungals, enzymes and probiotics, so I only need to take one product, instead of a whole series of different formulations. I took the full dose to begin with, and was pleased with the results, which started to kick in within about a week. Now I just take 1 capsule per day of the Lady Soma pill as a maintenance dose and that seems to be keeping things under control for me. For the first time, I feel like I have found a simple long term solution to keeping my candida at bay.

  11. oh my goodness!! i have the SAME rash all over…first site that i have actualy seen the same rash….was diagonised with severe candida overgrowth about a month ago!! since the beginning of treatment, so many symptoms have just vanished!! the rash came from severe inflamation through out my body….i have pics too, they were coming and going so fast i had to take pics to show the doc!! i found a md that within 15 min knew what was going on with me, after being sick for a long time….many doctors, many tests, and one doc was able to pinpoint it within 15 min….i mean i was soooo sick i could hardly function!!

  12. This is EXACTLY how I’ felt when I had the same back of the neck rash and I was dealing with a dermatologist that gave me steroid creams and my natural doctors (chiropractor, acupuncture etc) that gave me their natural remedies. Great post!

  13. Katie, what a great post. I am afraid I am in the candida boat, too. Although I am eating better than I once did, I am hopelessly addicted to something sweet. Fruit usually satisfies, but I’ll bet the strict diet will even exclude fruit. I hope there is hope for me to keep it at bay.

  14. It should be noted that “candida” or yeast syndrome is not a clinically diagnosed condition, and so called “cleanse” regimens are not backed up by science: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/candida-cleanse/AN01679. It’s not surprising this sounded like quackery to your husband, and as the medical science on this is sketchy: http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/candida.html.

  15. I’ve read many of you stating sensitivity to one food and another, then another and another…from what I’ve read (knowthecause.com) until our gut is healed from the leaky gut syndrome (caused by a candida/fungal problem) particles of food continue to ‘leak’ and our body then develops a sensitivity to that food. Check that out for more details and answers…and remember corn wheat and peanut butter are three of the top foods in the US contaminated with fungus…

  16. via Facebook

    Here’s part two! http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2013/03/27/3-steps-to-fighting-candida-naturally-part-2-of-the-story/

  17. thank you for your information on so many great topics! this one is especially apropos for me these days. i tried the Body Ecology diet for a few months. It’s so hard to do while trying to feed kids “normally!” but it makes so much sense to me and i felt better when i was doing it. but all is not healed. i will be very interested to read what you did. And I read your post on comparing GAPS, SCD and makers, but would be so curious to hear what you think about BED. thank you!!

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Maria,
      I’m actually totally unfamiliar with that one, but I know I should look into it! 🙂 Katie

  18. I should add- my son has had rashes and constant congestion in addition to reflux. There were complex issues with him and both surgery and probiotics have helped lots but it wasn’t until he passed a flatworm last month that his congestion disappeared!! It seems yeast & other types of parasites often build on & compound each other. Check out Mountain Meadow Herbs– really quality stuff. We are all on round 2 of our family parasite cleanse!
    And I reeeeeeally hope someday my scalp doesn’t itch and ache!

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