What is Tinea Versicolor?
The skin is the largest organ of the body and is the first line of protection against foreign organisms. However, when an infection breaches this bridge of protection, it can lead to infection. Tinea versicolor, also known as pityriasis versicolor, is a common yeast which is a condition of the skin that can result in a pesky infection with symptoms that may include discoloration of the skin resulting in pigment changes of lighter and/or darker skin, as well as noticeable patches or spots. Commonly, this discoloration occurs in areas above the waistline, such as the back, neck, chest, and upper arms. Other symptoms include itching and scaling. Your dermatologist may tell you you have a fungal infection, a yeast is a type of fungus. The skilled board-certified dermatologists of Snyder Dermatology in Austin, TX treat this common skin infection and help patients so that ongoing outbreaks do not occur.
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What Causes Tinea Versicolor
The cause of tinea versicolor varies but may be produced by oily skin, hormonal changes, high sweat production, humid weather, or a weak immune system. Tinea versicolor normally clears with treatment, but may reoccur. If the condition returns, patients generally repeat a similar treatment. With this particular fungus, prevention is key. Practical tips to prevent reoccurrence include: discontinuation of oily skin products, use non-oily sunscreen to protect skin, do not sunbathe or go to a tanning salon, and wear loose clothing. For those who live in humid environments or who sweat a lot, showering and staying dry is very helpful to keep the fungus at bay.
Diagnosing Tinea Versicolor
Our board-certified dermatologists can easily diagnose tinea versicolor by doing a close-up eye examination and looking at it. If there's any doubt, we may gently scrape the skin and take the skin scrapings and look at the infection area under a microscope. Once a diagnosis has been made, treatment can be discussed.
How to Treat Tinea Versicolor
Treatment of tinea versicolor may vary from topical ointments or creams to oral medication depending on the severity of the outbreak. Washing the skin thoroughly with a gentle cleanser, and keeping the skin dry is the first step for treatment. Our dermatologists will most likely prescribe a topical medication (cream, gel or shampoo), such as:
- Selenium Sulfide
In addition, many of our patients have success with oral medications as well, including:
It's also common to use both a topical and an oral medication, especially when the outbreak is widespread. It's important to understand that even though the fungus is treated and eliminated, it could take weeks or longer for the skin to appear normal. The discoloration and scaling will eventually return to normal.
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If you notice discolored patches or white or dark spots on your skin, it is important to have it assessed by a dermatologist. Fungal infections such as tinea versicolor generally do not go away on their own, but can be effectively treated with medications and topical medications.