Tinea versicolor (TV) is a fungal infection of the skin, that may also be referred to as pityriasis versicolor. The fungal infection is caused by a type of yeast that naturally lives on the skin. Tinea versicolor is not contagious.
Factors that may cause infection:
• Oily skin
• Hot climate
• Weakened immune system
The growing yeast causes discoloration of the skin that appears as light or dark spots and patches. The lesions may be white, pink, red, or brown and can be lighter or darker than the skin around them. Most commonly, tinea versicolor presents on the neck, chest, back and arms, although it may occur anywhere on the body. TV tends to worsend during warmer humid weather and improve in cool weather. It may be dry and scaly or itch and hurt.
Your Dermatologist can diagnose TV upon examination. They may also take a skin sample by scraping some skin and scales from the affected area to look at under a microscope.
Treatment options include:
• Topical anti-fungals. These products are applied directly to your skin and may be in the form of lotion, shampoo, cream, foam, or soap. They keep the growth of the yeast under control.
Weaker concentrations are available over-the-counter – these products contain the active ingredients such as zinc, clotrimazole, miconazole, pyrithione, selenium sulfide, and terbinafine.
• Anti-fungal pills. These may be used to treat more serious or recurrent cases of tinea versicolor. These medicines are available only by prescription and can have side effects.
Treatment usually eliminates the fungal infection. However, the discoloration of the skin may take up to several months to resolve. Once prone to TV, it may recur seasonally, and thus, it is recommended to continue topical treatments once to twice monthly to prevent reinfection.