What is Tinea Versicolor?

Tinea versicolor is caused by a common yeast that lives on everyones skin. In some individuals the yeast overgrows and shows up as light or dark spots on the skin and /or dry scaly patches. It’s common for the patches to disappear when the temperature drops in the winter, then return when the spring and summer when the humidity rises.

It is believed that the following can cause the overgrowth of yeast that causes tine versicolor:

  • Hot, humid weather
  • Lots of sweating
  • Oily skin
  • A weakened immune system

Treatment for tinea versicolor may include anti-fungal shampoos, soaps and lotions to keep the yeast under control. The active ingredient in these medicines is often zinc, selenium sulfide or ketoconazole.

Tinea versicolor often returns, especially when a person lives in a place that is warm and humid. Using a medicated cleanser once or twice a month, especially during warm and humid periods, can prevent the yeast from overgrowing again. If tinea versicolor is mild, you may be able to treat it yourself with over-the-counter anti-fungal products such as Selsun Blue or Nizoral 1%  shampoo

Your dermatologist may prescribe a short course of oral anti fungal medication. This may be the case if the tinea versicolor covers a large body area, is thick, or often returns after it is treated.

With treatment, the yeast is easy to kill. The skin, however, may stay lighter (or darker) for weeks or months. The skin will eventually return to its normal color. To help even out your skin tone, you should protect your skin from the sun and not tan.

For more information, or to schedule a medical dermatology appointment at our Del Mar dermatology practice, contact us.

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