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Tinea versicolor

Pityriasis versicolor

 

Tinea versicolor is a long-term (chronic) fungal infection of the skin.

Causes

 

Tinea versicolor is fairly common. It is caused by a type of fungus called Malassezia. This fungus is normally found on human skin. It only causes a problem in certain settings.

The condition is most common in adolescents and young adults. It typically occurs in hot climates. It does not spread person to person.

 

Symptoms

 

The main symptom is patches of discolored skin that:

  • Have sharp borders (edges) and fine scales
  • Are often dark reddish to tan in color
  • Are found on the back, underarms, upper arms, chest, and neck
  • Do not darken in the sun so may appear lighter than the surrounding healthy skin

African Americans may have a loss of skin color or an increase in skin color.

Other symptoms include:

  • Increased sweating
  • Itching

 

Exams and Tests

 

Your health care provider will examine a skin scraping under a microscope to look for the fungus. A skin biopsy may also be performed with a special stain called PAS to identify fungus and yeast.

 

Treatment

 

The condition is treated with antifungal medicine that is either applied to the skin or taken by mouth.

Applying over-the-counter dandruff shampoo containing selenium sulfide or ketoconazole to the skin for 10 minutes each day in the shower is another treatment option.

 

Outlook (Prognosis)

 

Tinea versicolor is easy to treat. Changes in skin color may last for months. The condition may come back during warm weather.

 

When to Contact a Medical Professional

 

Call your provider if you develop symptoms of tinea versicolor.

 

Prevention

 

Avoid excessive heat or sweating if you have had this condition in the past. You can also use anti-dandruff shampoo on your skin every month to help prevent the problem.

 

 

 

References

Gupta AK, Copper EA, Simpson FC. Tinea versicolor (pityriasis versicolor). In: Lebwohl MG, Heymann WR, Berth-Jones J, Coulson I, eds. Treatment of Skin Disease: Comprehensive Therapeutic Strategies. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 236.

Patterson JW. Mycoses and algal infections. In: Patterson JW, ed. Weedon's Skin Pathology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2015:chap 25.

 
  • Tinea versicolor - close-up

    Tinea versicolor - close-up - illustration

    Tinea versicolor is a superficial fungal infection common in adolescent and young adult males. This close-up view demonstrates the typical pattern of the rash.

    Tinea versicolor - close-up

    illustration

  • Tinea versicolor - shoulders

    Tinea versicolor - shoulders - illustration

    Tinea versicolor is a superficial fungal infection common in adolescent and young adult males. Frequent sites of infection include the neck, upper chest, and axilla (arm pit). The rash may range from yellow to golden brown in color. Mild itching is also associated with this infection. This photograph demonstrates fairly extensive involvement.

    Tinea versicolor - shoulders

    illustration

  • Tinea versicolor - close-up

    Tinea versicolor - close-up - illustration

    This is a fungal infection of the skin known as tinea versicolor, and is common in adolescent and young adult males. Besides the rash, there may be mild itching. Frequent sites of infection include the neck, upper chest, and arm pit (axilla). The rash may be white to yellowish to golden brown in color. A tan can accentuate the difference in skin color.

    Tinea versicolor - close-up

    illustration

  • Tinea versicolor on the back

    Tinea versicolor on the back - illustration

    Tinea versicolor is an infection caused by a fungus that is common in adolescent and young adult males. Besides the rash, seen here on the back, there may be mild itching. Frequent sites of infection include the neck, upper chest, and arm pit (axilla). The rash may be white (as seen here) to yellowish to golden brown in color. A tan can accentuate the difference in skin color.

    Tinea versicolor on the back

    illustration

  • Tinea versicolor - back

    Tinea versicolor - back - illustration

    Tinea versicolor is caused by the organism Pityrosporum ovale. It occurs most often in young adults. Wood's lamp examination revelas pale yellow-green fluorescence. KOH prep reveals "spaghetti and meatballs" with hyphae and spores. Skin lesions are sharply marginated macules, either hyper or hypopigmented, covered with fine scale. Small discrete lesions may eventually coalesce to cover large areas of the trunk.

    Tinea versicolor - back

    illustration

    • Tinea versicolor - close-up

      Tinea versicolor - close-up - illustration

      Tinea versicolor is a superficial fungal infection common in adolescent and young adult males. This close-up view demonstrates the typical pattern of the rash.

      Tinea versicolor - close-up

      illustration

    • Tinea versicolor - shoulders

      Tinea versicolor - shoulders - illustration

      Tinea versicolor is a superficial fungal infection common in adolescent and young adult males. Frequent sites of infection include the neck, upper chest, and axilla (arm pit). The rash may range from yellow to golden brown in color. Mild itching is also associated with this infection. This photograph demonstrates fairly extensive involvement.

      Tinea versicolor - shoulders

      illustration

    • Tinea versicolor - close-up

      Tinea versicolor - close-up - illustration

      This is a fungal infection of the skin known as tinea versicolor, and is common in adolescent and young adult males. Besides the rash, there may be mild itching. Frequent sites of infection include the neck, upper chest, and arm pit (axilla). The rash may be white to yellowish to golden brown in color. A tan can accentuate the difference in skin color.

      Tinea versicolor - close-up

      illustration

    • Tinea versicolor on the back

      Tinea versicolor on the back - illustration

      Tinea versicolor is an infection caused by a fungus that is common in adolescent and young adult males. Besides the rash, seen here on the back, there may be mild itching. Frequent sites of infection include the neck, upper chest, and arm pit (axilla). The rash may be white (as seen here) to yellowish to golden brown in color. A tan can accentuate the difference in skin color.

      Tinea versicolor on the back

      illustration

    • Tinea versicolor - back

      Tinea versicolor - back - illustration

      Tinea versicolor is caused by the organism Pityrosporum ovale. It occurs most often in young adults. Wood's lamp examination revelas pale yellow-green fluorescence. KOH prep reveals "spaghetti and meatballs" with hyphae and spores. Skin lesions are sharply marginated macules, either hyper or hypopigmented, covered with fine scale. Small discrete lesions may eventually coalesce to cover large areas of the trunk.

      Tinea versicolor - back

      illustration


     

    Review Date: 10/31/2016

    Reviewed By: Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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