Tinea Versicolor

Tinea versicolor is a common skin disease caused by an overgrowth of the natural yeast found on the skin.

What is Tinea Versicolor?

Tinea versicolor is a common yeast infection that presents as a subtle scaly rash that affects the trunk, neck and upper extremities. Because yeast typically flourishes with heat and humidity, tinea versicolor often presents during spring and summer. The condition usually often fades during the winter, although in some individuals the condition can be present year round.

Anyone can get tinea versicolor, but it is not contagious since it is caused when the natural yeast found on the skin grows out of control. It is most often seen in those with oily or sweaty skin, individuals who live in warm climates, or people with compromised immune systems.

Signs & Symptoms of Tinea Versicolor

Tinea versicolor can occur anywhere on the body and often appears as light spots or scaly patches but may also be pink, red, salmon or brown in color.

Sometimes called pityriasis versicolor, tinea versicolor becomes more pronounced with sun exposure because the affected skin doesn’t tan.

Spots may appear dry and scaly and sometimes itch. Over time, the spots may combine and develop into patches.

Treating Tinea Versicolor

The skin disorder is often diagnosed through a visual examination, but some cases are diagnosed by a skin scraping that can be viewed under the microscope or through the use of ultraviolet light. Once your dermatologist diagnoses the condition, the appropriate treatment can be implemented, including:

  • Topical anti-fungal preparations: Creams, lotions, shampoos and soaps can be used to reduce yeast growth. Some antifungal products are available over-the-counter, but stubborn cases may require prescription strength products.
  • Medicated cleansers: If the problem is a recurrent one, your dermatologist may suggest you use a medicated cleanser periodically to keep the fungus at bay.
  • Anti-fungal medication: Severe cases of tinea versicolor may require a short course of oral anti-fungal medication.

Even after the yeast is under control, it can take weeks or months for the spots to completely disappear and it’s not unusual for the condition to return each year when the weather turns warm. Certain over the counter shampoos containing Selenium Sulfide or Pyrithione Zinc may be used regularly to help control the condition.

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