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Quick Facts

Tinea Versicolor

(Pityriasis Versicolor)

By

The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision Nov 2018| Content last modified Nov 2018
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What is tinea versicolor?

Tinea versicolor is a mild yeast infection of the skin. Yeasts are a type of fungus.

  • Tinea versicolor causes scaly patches on your skin that are tan, brown, pink, or white

  • Tinea versicolor is harmless and doesn't spread from person to person

  • Doctors treat tinea versicolor with skin products, shampoos, and sometimes medicine

  • The infection often comes back after treatment

What causes tinea versicolor?

Tinea versicolor is caused by a yeast infection. It's different from the yeast infection called candidiasis (thrush).

You're more likely to get tinea versicolor if you:

  • Are a young adult

  • Are in a hot, humid place

  • Have a weak immune system

What are the symptoms of tinea versicolor?

Tinea versicolor usually causes scaly patches of skin that are tan, brown, pink, or white. The patches don't tan, so they may become more obvious in the summer.

The patches are usually on your:

  • Chest

  • Back

  • Neck

  • Belly

  • Sometimes, face

How can doctors tell if I have tinea versicolor?

Doctors can tell by looking at the patches. To know for sure, they may use a UV light to look at your skin. Tinea glows under UV light and other rashes don't. Doctors sometimes take small scrapings from your skin to look at under a microscope.

How do doctors treat tinea versicolor?

Doctors may treat tinea versicolor with:

  • Antifungal cream to put on your patches

  • Special shampoo, if you have patches on your scalp

  • Medicine by mouth, if you have patches all over your body or get tinea versicolor often

Your skin may not go back to its normal color for months or years after treatment.

The infection often comes back after treatment. To keep it from coming back, doctors may have you use special soap or apply antifungal cream once a month.

NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: Click here for the Professional Version
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