Tinea Versicolor

Tinea versicolor is a common, harmless rash seen mostly in young men and women. It is caused by an overgrowth of a yeast which is commonly found on the skin. This is not an infection “caught” from somebody. People with oily skin may be more prone to developing tinea versicolor. The summer months and high humidity can increase the growth of the yeast. The yeast causes changes in the color of the skin and may result in dark or light spots.

Tinea versicolor is characterized by scaly, pink to tan, or white patches which occur most commonly on the neck, shoulders, chest, and back. The lesions of tinea versicolor do not tan normally and often become more noticeable when the surrounding skin is tan.

Tinea versicolor is caused by a yeast that normally occurs on the skin and is therefore not contagious. It is often successfully treated with various topical antifungal agents. In more diffuse cases, oral antifungal therapy may be necessary. Tinea versicolor often has a high rate of recurrence after treatment and may require prophylactic treatment with antifungal creams and dandruff shampoos a few times a week.

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Mollie Jan, D.O.
Department of Dermatology
Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine/Frankford Hospital
Philadelphia, Pennsylvannia.