Tinea versicolor is a common, chronic skin condition caused by a yeast living on normal skin of all people. In most people, the presence of this yeast on the skin is not visible. In some people, for unknown reasons, the yeast grows more actively and causes an itchy scaling rash.
What causes tinea versicolor to occur?
Tinea versicolor is caused by a yeast called Pityrosporon orbiculare. People who have this condition are genetically predisposed to developing a rash when this germ is present on the skin. Why the yeast starts to grow out of control has not been determined to date.
When the yeast grows on untanned skin, the rash is pink to brown. When it grows on tanned skin, the rash looks white because the yeast blocks out the sunlight and the skin where the yeast is growing does not tan. When growing on Asian or African-American skin, the rash can look darker or lighter than the surrounding skin depending on the patient.
Everyone can get tinea versicolor, but it is much more common in teens and young adults due to the fact that their skin tends to be oilier than other age groups. Besides oily skin, excessive sweating, summer/tropical weather and weakened immunity can trigger excessive growth of the yeast.
What are the treatment options?
There is no permanent cure for tinea versicolor. Selenium sulfide 2.5 percent should be applied to the skin, between the neck and the knees, before bed every night for 2 nights and washed off the following morning. After this, use the selenium sulfide once a week to once a month in the above manner to keep the condition under control.
Resistant cases can be treated with an antifungal cream applied directly to the skin.
Some doctors use pills to treat this condition, but they tend to have side effects and are not guaranteed to work.
The uneven pigmentation that can develop from this condition can be improved with daily alpha hydroxyacid lotion application to the involved areas for several months.