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Tinea Versicolor


Disease: Tinea Versicolor Tinea Versicolor
Category: Dermatological diseases
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Disease Definition:

Tinea versicolor is characterized by patchy, small discoloration of the skin as a result of a fungal infection. This common disease is also called pityriasis versicolor.

This condition, which is likely to recur in humid and warm weather, is treated with special shampoos, lotions and antifungal creams, but skin color does not regain its homogeneity until some weeks after successful treatment when repigmentation occurs.

Work Group:

Prepared by: Scientific Section

Symptoms, Causes


The major sign of tinea versicolor is a thin-film of fungus coating the skin. Other symptoms may include:


  • Skin discoloration with small scaly patches
  • Slowly growing patches
  • Patches that become more apparent after being exposed to the sun
  • Possible mild itching

The patches may be of different colors like dark brown, pink, tan and white. Regardless of skin color, people are equally susceptible to tinea versicolor, though it is more apparent on dark skin. This condition usually infects regions of skin on the upper arms, neck, chest and back and it is more common in warm and humid climates.


Pores of healthy skin usually contain this type of fungus, but tinea versicolor does not develop except in the case of fungus overgrowth, which is initiated by the following factors:


  • High temperatures and humidity
  • Excessive sweating
  • Oily skin
  • Changes in hormones
  • Immunosuppression: this is the inability of the immune system to fight fungus or yeast growth in whatever part of the body.





In severe cases, when there is no noticeable improvement with the use of over the counter drugs, prescribed medications could be the solution. These include:

These include ketoconazole cream or shampoo; ciclopirox cream, gel or lotion; or selenium sulfide 2.5 percent lotion.

Oral medications may include fluconazole tablets,  itraconazole capsules, or ketoconazole tablets.

Successful treatment might not necessarily terminate all symptoms, since skin color irregularity does not fade away for several weeks, and the disease is likely to recur in humid and warm weather; hence, physicians sometimes tend to prescribe preventive medications once or twice a month.


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