Pityriasis versicolor

Pityriasis versicolor


Tinea versicolor is a chronic fungal infection of the skin

Alternative Names

Pityriasis versicolor


Tinea versicolor is a relatively common skin infection caused by the fungus Pityrosporum ovale, a type of yeast which is normally found on human skin. It only causes problems under certain circumstances.

The most commonly sites are the back, underarms, upper arms, chest, and neck. The condition is most common in adolescent and young adult males and is associated with hot climates.

In African Americans, pigmentary changes are common with hypopigmentation (loss of color) or hyperpigmentation (increase in skin color).


The main symptom is persistent patches of discolored skin with sharp borders (edges) and fine scales. The patches are often dark reddish-tan in color. Affected areas do not darken in the sun (skin may appear lighter than surrounding healthy skin)

Other symptoms include:

  • Increased sweating
  • Itching

Exams and Tests

A skin scraping and subsequent examination under a microscope should show the yeast.


Treatment consists of anti-fungal medicines applied to the skin. These medications include clotrimazole, ketoconazole, and miconazole.

Over-the-counter dandruff shampoos applied to the skin for 10 minutes each day in the shower may also help treat the lesions.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Though tinea versicolor is easily treated, pigment changes may last for months after treatment. The condition may come back during the warm months.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you develop symptoms of tinea versicolor.


People with a history of tinea versicolor should try to avoid excessive heat or sweating.

Pityriasis versicolor
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