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Tinea versicolor is a common skin condition that is cause by an overgrowth of skin surface yeast. This overgrowth results in uneven skin color and scaling that can be unsightly and may itch. The yeast normally lives in the pores of the skin and thrives in oily areas such as the neck, back, and upper chest.
IDENTIFYING TINEA VERSICOLOR
Tinea versicolor has small, scaly white-to-pink or tan-to-dark spots which can be scattered over the chest, upper arms, and back. They may also appear on the face and neck. On light or fair skin, tinea versicolor may be faint or may appear as tan-to-pinkish spots, while on darker skin tones tinea versicolor may be dark or light. The fungus grows very slowly. It prevents the skin from being able to tan normally. As the rest of the skin develops a tan in the sun, the pale spots, which are affected by the yeast, become increasingly noticeable, particularly on dark skin.
Tinea versicolor usually has very few symptoms. Occasionally, there is some slight itching that is more intense when a person gets over heated.
WHO IS AT RISK
Most people who develop tinea versicolor do so when they are teenagers or young adults. This condition is rare in children and the elderly, with the exception of tropical climates where it affects people of any age. People with lightly or darkly pigmented skin are equally susceptible to developing this condition. People who have oily skin may be more vulnerable than those with normal or dry skin.
Everyone has the yeast present in their skin but it is normally in small numbers. Anyone can develop an overgrowth of yeast. During the summer months when the temperature and humidity are high, this can cause the yeast to increase. The excess yeast on the skin stops the normal process of pigmentation, resulting in the dark and light spots. In tropical countries with continuous high heat and high humidity, people may experience these spots year round. In other climates, the spots generally fade in the cooler and drier months of the year. It is unknown why some people develop tinea versicolor while others do not.
In most cases, the appearance of the skin is diagnostic, but examination of the fine scales scraped from the skin is occasionally performed. A special light ("Wood's light") may help to make the diagnosis by showing a yellow green color where the skin is affected.
Both topical and oral medications can be used to treat Tinea versicolor. Topical treatment may include special cleansers and in some cases shampoos, lotions, or creams that are applied directly to the skin.
There are several oral antifungal medications that have been successfully used to treat tinea versicolor. Due to the possibility of side effects, and interactions with other medications, the use of these prescription medicines should be supervised by your dermatologist. After any form of treatment, the uneven coloring of the skin can remain for months after the yeast growth has been removed. The uneven coloring will remain until the skin naturally repigments its self.
Tinea versicolor can recur. Special cleansers (Selsun or Versel) can help minimize episodes when used once or twice a month, particularly during warm humid months of the year.
We put academic qualifications, many years of combined experience, and training in a variety of special interest areas to work for your healthy, radiant skin. Our providers – Drs. Schachter, Hanna, Curtis, Abdulla, Pollack, and Taradash – welcome new patients for treatment at the Dermatology on Bloor practice on Park Road in Toronto. Our team is here to serve your needs