Tinea Versicolor

1 What is Tinea versicolor?

A common fungal infection of the skin is called tinea versicolor. Also called pityriasis versicolor which the characteristics are tiny and discolored patches that can be lighter or darker in color than the other parts of your skin.

Tinea versicolor mostly affects teens and young adults, and can be seen usually in the shoulders and trunks.

This fungal is not contagious but can lead to self-consciousness and emotional distress, and can be very visible if exposed in to the sun. Treatment for this fungal are lotions, shampoos and antifungal cream but sometimes even after treating it, your skin color may be uneven up to months especially in warm and humid weather.

2 Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of tinea versicolor are:

  • patches of skin discoloration mostly in the trunks, back, chest, shoulders, upper arms and neck that can be darker or lighter than your normal skin,
  • scaling,
  • mild itching.

Consult your doctor if: the fungal infection reoccurs; your skin doesn’t improve with treatments; and the patches are covering large areas of your body.

3 Causes

Fungus that can be found on a healthy skin is the cause of tinea versicolor and then it will grow.

Here are some of the factors that can trigger the fungus include:

  • oily skin,
  • hot, humid weather,
  • weakened immune system,
  • and hormonal changes.

4 Making a Diagnosis

Your doctor can diagnose tinea versicolor just by physical exam or checking it and he may also get some samples of your skin so that he can look at it in a microscope.

Visit your doctor if you are bothered by the patches on your skin. He may refer you to a dermatologist that specializes in skin disorders.

Here are some of the questions that you can ask your doctor:

  • What causes this fungal?
  • What are the other possible causes?
  • Do I need tests?
  • What treatments are available?
  • What are the possible side effects of the treatments?
  • Is this temporary or long lasting?
  • When will my skin become normal again?
  • Are there any restrictions I need to follow?
  • What websites do you recommend so I can look at this fungal?

Your doctor will also ask you some questions such as:

  • How long have you had this?
  • Are they occasional or continuous?
  • Do they itch?
  • Have you had this in the past?

5 Treatment

Your doctor may recommend prescription-strength medication treatment if your tinea versicolor is severe.

There are topical preparations that you can rub on your skin and there are also drugs that you can drink such as:

  • Itraconazole (Onmel, Sporanox) tablets, capsules or oral solution,
  • Selenium sulfide (Selsun) 2.5 percent lotion or shampoo,
  • Ciclopirox (Loprox, Penlac) cream, gel or shampoo,
  • Ketoconazole (Ketoconazole, Nizoral) cream, gel or shampoo,
  • Fluconazole (Diflucan) tablets or oral solution.

It may reoccur in a hot, humid weather and your skin color may not return until months. Sometimes in order for the infection not to return, your doctor may suggest that you take medication once or twice a month.

6 Prevention

Your doctor may suggest oral or skin treatment that you can use once or twice a month during warm and humid months to prevent it from coming back such as:

  • Itraconazole (Onmel, Sporanox) tablets, capsules or oral solution,
  • Ketoconazole (Ketoconazole, Nizoral) cream, gel, shampoo,
  • Fluconazole (Diflucan) tablets or oral solution,
  • Selenium sulfide (Selsun) 2.5 percent lotion or shampoo.

7 Alternative and Homeopathic Remedies

There are a few herbal remedies for tinea versicolor such as:

  • Tea tree oil – an effective antifungal agent but can be quite harsh on skin so apply on small amount on your skin,
  • candle bush – also known as senna alata is another effective treatment for tinea versicolor,
  • Aloe Vera – to prevent the growth of the disease.

8 Lifestyle and Coping

Lifestyle modifications are necessary in order to cope with tinea versicolor.

You can apply over the counter antifungal medications for mild cases of tinea versicolor such as:

  • Miconazole (Micaderm) cream,
  • Terbinafine (Lamisil AT) cream or gel,
  • Selenium sulfide (Selsun Blue) 1 percent lotion,
  • Zinc pyrithione soap,
  • Clotrimazole (Lotrimin AF) cream or lotion.

First is wash and dry the affected area and then you can apply a thin layer of the product such as lotions, ointments and creams once or twice a day for at least two weeks, and for shampoo you can rinse it after 5 – 10 minutes of waiting. Your skin color will even out eventually. Consult your doctor if it didn’t improve after a month. You can also protect your skin from the sun and other sources of UV light.

9 Risks and Complications

There are several risks and complications associated with tinea versicolor.

Some of the risk factors that can trigger tinea versicolor include:

  • humid and warm weather,
  • use of cosmetics and oils,
  • if you sweat a lot,
  • weakened immune system.

Some of the possible complications of this fungal infection are:

  • recurrence of the fungal infection,
  • your skin tone may be left uneven after treatment,
  • hypopigmentation,
  • hyperpigmentation.