Tinea Versicolor

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Tinea Versicolor

What is tinea versicolor?

Tinea versicolor is a superficial fungal infection of the skin. The presence of the fungus alters the normal pigmentation of the skin which presents clinically as small, discolored patches that may be darker or lighter than the surrounding skin. Tinea versicolor most commonly develops on the shoulders and trunk of teens and young adults.

What causes tinea versicolor?

The fungus that causes the symptoms of tinea versicolor is the result of a strain of yeast that lives on your skin. Under certain conditions, the yeast grows excessively and the rash of tinea versicolor can develop. Infection can be trigged by oily skin, heavy perspiration, a weakened immune system, and living in a hot and humid climate.

How dermatologists diagnose tinea versicolor

A careful visual examination of the skin is the first step in diagnosing tinea versicolor. As part of the physical exam, your dermatologist may use a Wood’s lamp (blacklight) to detect changes in pigmentation color. Your dermatologist may also remove a small piece of skin from the affected area (known as a biopsy) for further examination under a microscope to rule out other conditions that have a similar appearance.

How dermatologists treat tinea versicolor

Treatment of tinea versicolor depends on several factors including extent of skin rash, location of skin rash, associated symptoms, and history of prior treatments.  Antifungal shampoos, soaps, creams or foams may be used alone or in combination to keep yeast production under control.

If the tinea versicolor persists or returns despite treatment, which is more likely in tropical and subtropical climates, your dermatologist may recommend a maintenance regimen to more aggressively combat yeast growth.

For more extensive eruptions or tinea versicolor that continues to recur despite topical treatment, oral antifungal medication may be prescribed.

If you are concerned about tinea versicolor, click here to schedule an appointment with our board-certified dermatologists or walk into Walk-in Dermatology at your convenience for your evaluation.