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Tinea Versicolor(Pityriasis Versicolor)

Pronounced: tin-EE-ah ver-si-COH-lar; pit-AH-rye-i-sis ver-si-COH-lar

Definition

Dermatomycosis is a skin infection caused by fungi or yeast. Tinea versicolor is a type of dermatomycosis caused by a yeast that affects skin color.

Tinea Versicolor

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Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes

The fungus that causes tinea versicolor is normally found in small numbers on the skin and scalp. Overgrowth of the yeast leads to infection.

Risk Factors

These factors increase your chance of developing tinea versicolor:

  • Age: adolescents and young adults
  • Skin: more common in people with naturally oily or excessively sweaty skin
  • Climate: more common in warm and humid climates
  • Weakened immune system
Symptoms

Symptoms include:

  • Uneven skin color, with either white or light brown patches
  • Light scaling on affected areas
  • Slight itching, which is worse when the person is hot
  • Patches that are easier to notice in the summer

Tinea versicolor usually affects the back, chest, and neck. It can result in uneven skin color which can last for months after the infection is gone.

Diagnosis

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. You may need to be referred to a doctor who specializes in skin disorders (a dermatologist).

The doctor may use an ultraviolet light to see the patches more clearly. A patch may be scraped and sent for testing.

Treatment

Treatment options for tinea versicolor include the following:

Medications Applied to the Skin

Antifungal creams and shampoos such as selenium sulfide , ketoconazole, and zinc pyrithione are usually the preferred medicines to treat the infection. They are usually applied daily for one to four weeks.

Medications Taken by Mouth

Prescription antifungal medications taken by mouth are convenient. You also do not have to take them for a long period. However, they are more expensive and can cause side effects. Some people cannot take antifungal medications. Tell your doctor about any other medications you are taking and any medical problems you have.

After the infection is successfully treated, your skin may naturally return to its normal color. This process usually takes several months. The condition may improve in the winter only to return in the summer.

Prevention

If you know you are prone to tinea versicolor, try to avoid excess heat or sweating.

RESOURCES:

American Academy of Dermatology
http://www.aad.org

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
http://www.niams.nih.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

The College of Family Physician of Canada
http://www.cfpc.ca

The Dermatologist.ca Directory
http://www.dermatologists.ca

References:

Tinea versicolor. American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: http://www.aad.org/skin-conditions/dermatology-a-to-z/tinea-versicolor . Accessed November 19, 2012.

Tinea versicolor. Children’s Hospital Boston website. Available at: http://www.childrenshospital.org/az/Site1752/mainpageS1752P0.html . Accessed November 19, 2012.

Tinea versicolor. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us . Updated October 24, 2012. Accessed November 19, 2012.



Last reviewed March 2013 by Brian Randall, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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