All about tinea versicolor – causes, treatment and prevention


Tinea versicolor is also a fungal infection that can affect the skin. The Malassezia fungus, a type of yeast found on the skin’s surface, disrupts the skin’s pigmentation, causing the appearance of small, discolored patches. It helps protect the skin from infections and harmful diseases. When yeast growth can get out of control and damage the color and pigmentation of the skin. It causes patches to develop, which may be lighter or darker than the natural color of the skin. Tinea versicolor spots usually appear on the trunk, back and arms. It mainly occurs in teenagers and young adults and can be more visible under sun exposure. Tinea versicolor is not contagious or painful, but it can suppress the body’s immune system and cause emotional distress.

causes – Tinea versicolor is caused by a fungal infection. It’s essentially a yeast called Malassezia overgrowth on the skin. It usually lives on the skin without any problems. It can overgrow, especially in hot and humid weather. But there are many things that can trigger tinea versicolor overgrowth, such as: E.g. oily skin, living in a hot climate, sweat, hormonal changes, weak immune system. The condition can affect people of all skin colors and skin types.

treatment – Tinea versicolor can be treated with over-the-counter products such as shampoos and antifungal creams containing selenium sulfide, ointments containing miconazole, clotrimazole or terbinafine. In severe cases, after consulting your dermatologist, take antifungal pills to kill the yeast. Tinea versicolor can attack the pigment on the skin, creating light or dark spots.

  • To treat this infection, you can use topical treatments like ointments, creams, soap, foam, or lotions that can be applied directly to the skin. It helps keep fungal growth under control and can go a long way in reducing stains.
  • When topical treatments aren’t effective, you can also take oral medications, which can speed up the healing process, but only in the severe and recurring cases of tinea versicolor.
  • Oral treatments can also have some side effects, so always consult your dermatologist before taking any pills.

Precautions to be taken by the patient – There are a few things you can do to prevent tinea versicolor:

  • Wear loose-fitting clothing to allow the skin to breathe. Tight clothing creates a breeding ground for yeast.
  • Avoid using products that can make the skin greasy, since the appearance of moisture on the body for a long time can cause a fungal infection.
  • Always shower immediately after a workout to prevent creating a sticky, warm space for yeast to grow.
  • Avoid going out in bright sunlight and always have an anti-fungal shampoo or cream on hand.
  • Wear a broad spectrum sunscreen with a non-greasy formula every day. This can help the skin protect itself from rashes or infections caused by sun damage.
  • Use anti-fungal shampoo or cream once or twice a month, especially during the warm months.

(With contributions from Dr. Nivedita Dadu, Dermatologist, Founder and Chair of Dadu Medical Center)


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