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Tinea versicolor or pityriasis versicolor is a common skin condition caused by an overgrowth of fungus on the skin's surface. The term versicolor refers to the fact that affected skin changes color, becoming either lighter or darker than surrounding skin. It is believed to be caused by a yeast (Malassezia furfur) normally found on human skin, but which can overgrow under certain situations including warm, humid environments.
Tinea versicolor tends to be more common in individuals who have seborrheic dermatitis, dandruff, and hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating).
Tinea Versicolor Symptoms
Tinea versicolor most commonly affects the shoulders, back and chest. However, it can also be found on other areas – the crook of the arm, skin under the breasts or groin. The infection appears as just a scattering of a few white-to-pink or tan-to-dark spots to being more widespread. Infected skin doesn't tan normally so it is more noticeable upon sun exposure, especially on dark skin.
Apart from the visible changes in skin color, there are few other symptoms. Itching may occur, especially if an individual becomes hot. Tinea versicolor is not contagious.
Tinea Versicolor Treatment
Treatment is implemented to eradicate the yeast associated with the condition. Effective options include:
- Oral prescription medications, including ketoconazole or itraconazole.
While it is easy to eradicate the yeast, treatment can take weeks. The skin discoloration can last for many months even after the yeast has been eradicated. Though the process can be slow, skin color will eventually blend and look normal. Recurrence of the rash is highly likely and will require treatment again.
Sharmani Pillay is a Registered Pharmacist who specializes in anti aging skin care and women's wellness. She owns and operates an online skin care store at PharmacyMix.com and a wellness consulting practice at MidlifeBalance.com.