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Both vitiligo and tinea versicolor are chronic skin conditions which have skin discolorations as their foremost symptom.  Initially, it can be difficult to differentiate between the two.  It's important to consult a doctor in order to properly diagnose the condition and start appropriate treatment.  Here are some of the differences between vitiligo and tinea versicolor:

Vitiligo:

 •Is a considered an autoimmune disease that causes skin lightening due to destruction of melanin

 •Patches are white because of depigmentation

 •Patches are characterized by slow growth and irregular shape

 •Appears mostly on the face, hands, arms and feet

 •Can happen at any age

 •Treatment is physician driven and may involve steroids and phototherapy.  Recent research has shown that piperine, the compound that gives black pepper its spicy flavor, is effective in stimulating pigmentation

 •Discoloration may be permanent.  However, in some cases, pigmentation eventually returns

Tinea Versicolor:

 •Caused by the yeast Malassezia globosa or Malassezia furfur which lives on the skin's surface and which can overgrow under warm and humid conditions

 •Patches can be lighter or darker than surrounding skin, although they usually range from pale white to pink to tan

 •Patches may be itchy

 •Appears mostly commonly on the trunk of the body

 •Tends to affect teenagers and young adults

 •Treatments include topical over the counter lotions and/or shampoos containing selenium sulfide (as in [Link Removed] ), or clotrimazole

 •Relatively easy to eradicate the yeast but chance of recurrence is high

 •Discoloration can last for months but skin color will eventually  blend and look normal

Despite the differences between vitiligo and tinea versicolor, sufferers of either condition are advised to use sunscreen every day.  Darkening of the unaffected areas of skin from sun exposure will only magnify the contrast between the lighter patches and the surrounding areas.  And skin that lacks melanin, which provides some sun protection, is even more susceptible to the sun's damaging rays.

If you think you suffer from either of these conditions, you may wish to consult your doctor for advice.

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 [Link Removed].
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