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Tinea versicolor (also known as pityriasis versicolor) is a fungal
infection that causes a skin rash. The rash is formed by many small spots that
typically appear on the oily parts of the upper body, usually on the chest and
The spots are flat and may be white, pink, red, tan, or brown,
depending on skin color. Each person's spots are usually the same color, either
lighter or darker than the rest of the skin. The spots may eventually form
patches, and the spotted skin may be scaly.
Tinea versicolor is caused by a type of fungus normally found on the skin. But when temperatures and humidity are high,
such as during the summer or in tropical regions, the fungi may grow rapidly,
resulting in a skin rash.
Tinea versicolor is most common in teenagers and young adults
because their skin tends to be more oily, but it can occur at any age. It is
not considered to be contagious.
Tinea versicolor is treated with topical medicines that are spread
on the skin or scalp, such as creams, shampoos, or solutions. Topical medicines
are an effective treatment for the rash. But if the rash is severe or returns
often, antifungal pills may be needed. Tinea versicolor is easily treated but
often returns within 1 to 2 years.
Current as of:
February 5, 2016
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
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