For more information, call: 573-331-3000

A-Z Health Topics


Return to Index

Tinea Versicolor

(Pityriasis Versicolor)

Definition

Tinea versicolor is a common infection that affects the skin. It is characterized by small, scaly patches with different colors.
si55551196 96472 1
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes

Tinea versicolor is caused by a fungus. It is a type of dermatomycosis caused by a yeast that affects skin color. 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

Tinea versicolor is more common in adolescents and young adults. Other factors that may increase your chance of tinea versicolor include:
  • Having naturally oily or excessively sweaty skin
  • Living in warm and humid climates
  • Having a weakened immune system

Symptoms

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

Treatment

Tinea versicolor is treated with antifungal medication. This may be:
  • Oral
  • Topical
  • In a shampoo
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, talk to your doctor. Your doctor may prescribe a treatment you can use periodically to keep tinea versicolor from returning.

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

Dermatology http://www.dermatologists.ca

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

References

Tinea versicolor. American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: https://www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/diseases-and-treatments/q---t/tinea-versicolor. Accessed November 19, 2012.

Tinea versicolor. Boston Children's Hospital website. Available at: http://www.childrenshospital.org/health-topics/conditions/t/tinea-versicolor. Accessed November 19, 2012.

Tinea versicolor. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated October 24, 2012. Accessed November 19, 2012.

Revision Information