Tinea versicolor: It is not harmful, but many people dislike the way it discolors their skin.
Also called pityriasis versicolor
We all have yeast living on our skin. When the yeast grow out of control, a person can get a skin disease called tinea versicolor.
Your dermatologist may tell you that you have a fungal infection on your skin. Yeast is a type of fungus.
Many people get tinea versicolor. It is one of the most common skin diseases in tropical and subtropical areas of the world. People who live in tropical areas may have tinea versicolor year-round.
Image used with permission of the American Academy of Dermatology National Library of Dermatologic Teaching Slides.
The first sign of tinea versicolor is often spots on the skin. The other signs and symptoms are:
The yeast that causes tinea versicolor lives on everyone's skin. It is not clear why the yeast overgrows on some people's skin and not others. We do know the following about tinea versicolor:
Yeast normally live on our skin. When the yeast overgrows, it causes the skin disease tinea versicolor. It is believed that the following can cause the yeast to overgrow:
A dermatologist can often look at the skin and tell whether a patient has tinea versicolor. If there is any doubt, the dermatologist will do one of the following to make an accurate diagnosis:
What a dermatologist prescribes depends on several things. These include where the tinea versicolor appears on the body, how much of the skin is affected, how thick the spots have grown, and climate.
Treatment for tinea versicolor may include:
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.
Tinea versicolor can return. When the air outdoors is warm and humid, the yeast can quickly grow out of control. Some people who live in a tropical climate may need to use a medicated cleanser to prevent the yeast from overgrowing. People who live in an area that becomes warm and moist each spring may see tinea versicolor return every year.
If tinea versicolor is mild, you may be able to treat it yourself. There are anti-fungal products that you can buy without a prescription. These include:
When using these products, dermatologists recommend the following:
Some people need stronger medicine, so they see a dermatologist. Whether you self-treat or see a dermatologist, these tips can help you get better results:
To get the best results, you need to protect your skin from the sun. To do this, you should apply sunscreen every day. Be sure to apply the sunscreen 20 minutes before you go outside. And apply it to all skin that will not be covered by clothing. Make sure to use a sunscreen that offers:
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