Tinea versicolor

Tinea versicolor

Description, Causes and Risk Factors:

Alternative Name: Pityriasis versicolor.

Tinea versicolor is a type of dermatomycosis that is caused by yeast that interferes with normal tanning. Dermatomycosis is a term that includes a variety of superficial skin infections caused by fungi or yeast. These types of infections almost always only affect skin, hair, and/or nails. In people with severe immune problems, these infections can become more serious and invasive.

Tinea versicolor has small, scaly white-to-pink or tan-to-dark spots, which can be scattered over the upper arms, chest and back. They may sometimes appear on the neck and the face. On light skin, tinea versicolor may be faint or can appear as tan-to-pink spots, while on dark skin tinea versicolor may be light or dark.

The fungus that causes tinea versicolor, Malassezia furfur, Pityrosporum ovale, which are normally present in small numbers on the skin and scalp. Overgrowth of the yeast leads to infection

Risk Factors:

    Sex: More common in men.

  • Age: More common in adolescents and young adults.

  • Skin: More common in people with naturally oily or excessively sweaty skin.

  • Climate: More common in warm and humid climates.

  • Hormonal changes.

  • Immunosuppression — when your immune system is unable to protect your body from the growth of yeast or fungus on your skin or elsewhere.


    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 most noticeable in summer months.


Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. You may need to bereferred to a doctor who specializes in skin disorders (dermatologist). The doctor may use an ultraviolet light to see the patches more clearly and may scrape the patch to send a sample for testing.A skin scraping that is examined under a microscope should show the yeast.


Tinea versicolor is treated with topical or oral medications. Topical treatment includes special cleansers including some shampoos, creams, or lotions applied directly to the skin.

Topical medications may include:

    Selenium sulfide 2.5 percent lotion.

  • Ciclopirox (Loprox) cream, gel or lotion.

  • Ketoconazole (Nizoral) cream or shampoo.

Several oral medications have been used successfully to treat tinea versicolor. Because of possible side effects, or interactions with other medications, the use of these prescription medicines should be supervised by your dermatologist.

Oral medications may include:

    Ketoconazole (Nizoral) tablets.

  • Itraconazole (Sporanox) capsules.

  • Fluconazole (Diflucan) tablets.

After any form of treatment, the uneven color of the skin may remain several months after the yeast has been eliminated until the skin re-pigments normally.

Disclaimer: The above information is educational purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.

DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.


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