Malassezia pachydermatis is yeast found on the skin, ears, between the toes, anal sacs, vagina and rectum of dogs. Even though this yeast is a normal inhabitant of these regions, an abnormal overgrowth of the yeast can cause dermatitis, or inflammation of the skin.
Malassezia dermatitis can affect any breed of dog, but the following breeds are predisposed to this disease: Basset Hounds, Cocker Spaniels, Dachshunds, English Setters, German Shepherds, Maltese, Poodles, Shih Tzus, and West Highland white terriers.
Chronic itchy skin
Loss of hair (alopecia)
Redness of affected areas
Patches of skin becoming darker (hyperpigmentation)
Epidermal thickening (seen in chronic cases)
Malassezia infections often appear during the high-humidity months of summer and they may continue into the fall. Dogs that suffer from a bacterial dermatitis (skin infection), allergies, or seborrhea can have irritated skin that is then susceptible to becoming infected with this yeast. Also, increased levels of oils in the skin or ear wax can lead to an infection.
Treatment for Malassezia dermatitis usually involves topical therapy with antifungal shampoos, sprays, wipes and lotions and/or systemic treatments with ketoconazole, fluconazole, itraconazole or terbinafine. The use of topical products alone may be adequate for treating mild or localized infections. Oral medications are recommended for more severe or generalized infections. The prognosis for yeast dermatitis is good, as long as the underlying cause is identified and treated.
Helichrysum is originally from South Africa, Morocco, Algeria, Cyprus, France, Italy, Corsica and Bosnia. It is commonly referred to as Everlasting or Immortelle denoting the eternal bliss and never ending health benefits. The essential oil is extracted from the flowering tops with steam distillation.
Helichrysum is known to reduce spasms, maintain the fluidity of blood, fights allergies, inhibits microbial infections, dissolves and clears blood clots, reduces inflammation from fever, and is good for nervous system health. Furthermore, it reduces various other types of inflammation, protects wounds from becoming septic, makes the skin smooth and young, and kills fungus.
In a recent study researchers demonstrated the benefits of using essential oils for treating Malassezia dermatitis. They treated 20 dogs with dermatitis caused by M pachydermatis using a blend of essential oils containing bitter orange, lavender, oregano,marjoram, peppermint and helichrysum. These essential oils were mixed into a base of sweet almond oil and coconut oil.
The mixture of oils was topically applied to twenty dogs twice daily for 1 month. Another group of ten dogs was treated with a conventional therapy based on ketoconazole given at a rate of 10mg/kg per day and given twice a week for 3 weeks. At the end of the treatment periods, researchers found that both groups of dogs had significant improvements in their clinical status without adverse effects. They conducted follow-up visits 6 months later to observe whether there was a recurrence of the original disease condition, and found that both groups retained their clinical improvements.
The researchers concluded that the treatment using essential oils achieved a good clinical outcome. They did not observe any recurrence of the original skin disorders after 180 days. The essential oil blend that they tested was a safe and natural solution to a common problem, which offers an important alternative to conventional pharmaceutical treatments.