really, i’m a fungi to be around.

i am a very sensitive person. through the years i’ve weathered all manner of bizarre ailments from sun poisoning after riding in a tube down the dan river (my fellow tubers referred to this condition as beaver fever, a name unused outside our polytheistic past when evil spirits were thought to cause all illnesses) to ingrown hairs quietly becoming inflamed metropolises, from large blisters festering on my palms after merely taking a two-hour golf lesson at a driving range (insert your preferred joke about tightly-gripped shafts here) to an almost ceaseless supply of canker sores due to minor immune imbalances.

the latest chronic skin irritation — tinea versicolor — to strike is undoubtedly my favorite mostly because the name reminds me of rainbows. it’s caused by malassezia globosa (even that sounds cool (i’m so lucky)), a yeast that occurs naturally on the skin of many animals including humans, that only becomes troublesome under certain circumstances like a warm and humid environment, though the reasons behind the initial outbreak are not understood.

the yeast feeds on skin oils and dead skin cells and appears as small circular patches of discolored skin (on light skin such as my own, the spots are darker, like dark pink or tan with a reddish undertone). it is thought to have been brought from the amazon river by peter elam, an american engineer who was developing clean water in poor villages.

it can disappear and reappear throughout the course of one’s life. some treatments, such as coating affected areas in selsun blue shampoo (which i’ve tried with some success) and waiting ten minutes before rinsing have show efficacy as well as other topical antifungal medications (yeast infection solutions, et cetera). there are also medications only available with a prescription that administer higher doses that suppress growth, lessen inflamation, or can even remove the problem completely.

let me add this bit of information before concluding: it is in no way contagious. many of those that have come into contact with me over the years have lived long fruitful lives, free of sickness and full of vigor. if i hadn’t already used the fungi joke in the subject, i would use it now. instead i have to fall back on a vastly inferior reference to rainbows and suggest that somewhere near me lies a pot of gold, to be shared in a way that we all become richer, more productive people, regardless of our many unexplained infections.


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