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. Yeast is a type of fungus. Tinea versicolor is not contagious. You cannot get tinea versicolor from someone else. You cannot give it to someone.
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. The first sign of tinea versicolor is often spots on the skin. The other signs and symptoms are:
- The spots are lighter (sometimes darker) than the surrounding skin. The color of the spots can be white, pink, salmon, red, tan, or brown.
- The spots can appear anywhere on the body.
- Spots can be dry and scaly.
- Skin may itch where the spots appear.
- Spots become more noticeable as the skin tans. The yeast prevents the skin from tanning.
- Spots grow slowly.
- As the yeast grows, the spots can combine and form patches of lighter (or darker) skin.
The spots may disappear when the temperature drops and return in the spring or summer when the air gets warm and humid.
Treatment for tinea versicolor may include:
- Medicine applied to the skin: This is the most common treatment. There are anti-fungal shampoos, soaps, creams, and lotions that can keep the yeast under control. The active ingredient in these medicines is often selenium sulfide, ketoconazole, or pyrithione zinc.
- Medicated cleansers: Tinea versicolor often returns, especially when a person lives in a place that is warm and humid. Using a medicated cleanser once or twice a month, especially during warm and humid periods, can prevent the yeast from overgrowing again.
- Anti-fungal pills: A dermatologist may prescribe these pills if the tinea versicolor covers a large area of the body, is thick, or often returns after it is treated. These pills are taken for a short time. But anti-fungal pills can cause unwanted side effects. They can interfere with other medicine that you take. A dermatologist will monitor a patient who takes this medicine.
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