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Tinea Versicolor

Pityriasis Versicolor

What tinea versicolor? — Tinea versicolor is a skin infection that causes areas of the skin to change color. The skin might have lighter patches, darker patches, or both light and dark patches.
Tinea versicolor is caused by a fungus. This fungus lives on people's skin and does not cause problems normally. But in some people, the fungus can cause tinea versicolor. This happens more often in people who live where the weather is hot and humid.
Even though tinea versicolor is caused by fungus, it does not spread from one person to another. It is not "contagious."
What are the symptoms of tinea versicolor? — Tinea versicolor often appears as lots of small spots of color that seem to run into each other and form large patches. The colors can vary from white to light brown, dark brown, gray-black or pinkish red. There can also be a mix of colors.
Tinea versicolor usually shows up on the back, chest, or upper arms. It can also happen on the face or in places where the skin rubs together, such as the armpit.
People often notice this problem more in the summer when affected areas of the skin stand out because they don't get tan from the sun.
Is there a test for tinea versicolor? — Yes. After learning about your symptoms and doing an exam, your doctor or nurse might gently scrape the surface of your skin and look at the scrapings under a microscope. This procedure is usually not painful. If you have tinea versicolor, the doctor or nurse will see the fungus that causes the condition in the scrapings from your skin.
How is tinea versicolor treated? — Most mild cases of tinea versicolor only need a special "shampoo" or cream. The shampoo is used like a soap on the affected skin.
If your tinea versicolor covers a large part of your body, or if it doesn't get better with the shampoo or cream, you might need medicine that comes in pills. Your doctor will decide if you need pills.
Even after you get treated, your skin might not go back to its normal color for several months. This does not mean the treatment didn't work. It just takes time for the skin to heal.
Can tinea versicolor be prevented? — If the tinea versicolor keeps coming back, there are shampoos or medicines that can help prevent it. Your doctor will work with you on the best treatment plan for your situation.
All topics are updated as new evidence becomes available and our peer review process is complete.
This topic retrieved from UpToDate on: Mar 30, 2020.
Topic 17233 Version 4.0
Release: 28.2.2 - C28.105
© 2020 UpToDate, Inc. and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.

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