Tinea versicolor

What is Tinea versicolor

Tinea versiolor (also called dermatomycosis furfuracea, pityriasis versicolor or tinea flava) is a common skin fungal infection that occurs usually on the chest and back.

Aetiology and epidemiology

it is caused by fungi from the species Malassezia (once called Pityrosporum). This organism is normally found on the skin of many different animals an humans (by some estimates it has been found on 18% of infants and 90-100% of the adults). It is present on the areas of the skin that show disease in and those that appear completely normal. Even though it may not cause any disease, it is thought to be associated many different skin conditions like: Pityrosporum folliculitis, confluent and reticulate papillomatosis, seborrheic dermatitis, and atopic dermatitis.

Malassezia is present worldwide and is more common in areas with high humidity and temperatures.

Tinea versicolor is a benign disease which is thought to be non contagious (because it already is present on the skin of people as part of the normal flora). The prevalence is not associated with race or sex and it is more common in people aged fifteen to twenty – four years.

Appearance: normally, the main compliant of the patients is the cosmetic effect of Malassezia – it causes small, round patches of skin discolouration. The affected skin can look hypo or hyperpigmentated (too light or too dark discolouration of the skin). The lesions are covered by very fine scales and are usually found on the trunk, back, abdomen and the proximal part of the limbs. Just sometimes, the affected skin can be mildly itchy.

Tinea versicolor Picture

Tinea versicolor

Photo Credit: https://www.dermquest.com/


 because its distinctive look, the disease can often be diagnosed just by clinical examination. If the origin of the lesions is not so clear, the doctor might use a special lamp called Wood’s lamp that makes Malassezia glow or examine a small part of the skin under a microscope.

Tinea versicolor Cure

Treatment of the condition consists of:

  • Topical anti fungal medications: like ketoconazole or selenium sulphide shampoos.
  • Oral, systemic antifungal treatment: is the disease affects a very large area of the skin or if the topical treatment is not effective.


Tinea versicolor has a very good prognosis. It does not leave any marks or scars and the skin discolouration should disappear in about one to two months after the treatment has been initiated. However, recurrence is quite common and the treatment regimen frequently has to be repeated.

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