Tinea versicolor, also called pityriasis versicolor, is a common fungal infection of the skin. It is caused by the yeast, Malassezia furfur or Pityrosporum orbiculare. Factors that can cause the fungus to become more visible include high humidity and immune or hormone abnormalities. However, almost all people with this very common condition are perfectly healthy. This yeast is normally found on the human skin. The most commonly affected sites are the back, underarm, upper arms, chest, and neck. It mainly affects the skin of young people. There may be just a few spots, or there can be so many that they run together. In some people the yeast grows more actively and causes an itchy scaling rash. Tinea versicolor usually is less likely to occur as you age, when the skin becomes less oily. The disease is most commonly found in adolescent and young adult males. Because the tinea versicolor fungus is part of the normal adult skin, this condition is not contagious. It often recurs after treatment, but usually not right away.
Tinea versicolor can result in uneven skin color. Tinea versicolor usually affects the back, upper arms, underarms, chest, and neck. It rarely affects the face. The spots can be lighter or darker than the skin around them. During the summer in mild climates, the spots may be very noticeable because they don't tan with the rest of your skin. During the winter, the spots may seem to go away as your tan fades and they become less obvious. Treatment usually includes the use of dandruff shampoo on the skin, as prescribed by your physician. The shampoo is left on the skin overnight and washed off in the morning. Tinea versicolor is usually diagnosed based on a medical history and physical examination. The patches seen with this condition are unique, and usually allow the diagnosis to be made on physical examination. Tinea versicolor usually recurs, requiring additional treatments. Your physician may also prescribe topical creams or oral antifungal medications. It is also important to know that improvement in the skin may only be temporary, and a recurrence of the condition is possible.
Causes of Tinea versicolor
Tinea versicolor is caused by a fungus that lives in the skin of almost all adults. People with oily skin, especially teens and young adults, are more likely to get tinea versicolor. It does not spread from person to person. It is also more common in tropical and semi-tropical climates. Factors that can cause the fungus to become more visible include high humidity and immune or hormone abnormalities. However, almost all people with this very common condition are perfectly healthy.
Common causes and risk factors of Tinea versicolor:
- A yeast called Pityrosporum orbiculare.
- Cushing's disease.
- Suppressed immune system.
- Abnormalities in the adrenal gland.
Signs and Symptoms of Tinea versicolor
Tinea versicolor usually causes no symptoms. In people with dark skin tones, pigmentary changes such as hypopigmentation are common, while in those with lighter skin color, hyperpigmentation are more common. The main signs are patches of discolored skin that grow slowly and prevent the skin from tanning. The small scaly patches can be various colors, including white, pink, tan or dark brown. The patches may be more noticeable in the summer months when the variation in your normal skin color becomes apparent.
Sign and symptoms may include the following :
- A rash of small circular or oval spots.
- Slight itching.
- Rashes on the face are rare but may appear in children.
- Dark patches on the affected area.
Treatment for Tinea versicolor
Treatment kills the fungi quickly, but it can take months for the spots to disappear and for your skin color to return to normal. Treatment usually includes the use of dandruff shampoo on the skin, as prescribed by your physician. The shampoo is left on the skin overnight and washed off in the morning. The treatment will not bring the normal color back to the skin immediately. This will occur naturally and may take several months. Antifungal pills cannot be taken by some people, especially those with liver or heart problems.
Treatment may include:
- Anti fungal agents such as clotrimazole, miconazole and selenium sulfide shampoo, are very effective in the treatments of tinea versicolor.
- Prophylactic therapy may also help in reducing dryness of the skin.
- Topical allylamines have bee found mycologically effective.
- Oral treatment for tinea versicolor includes ketoconazole, fluconazole and itraconazole is beneficial in the eradication of skin rashes.