Tinea versicolor(pityriasis versicolor) is a common skin infection that disrupts the normal coloration of the skin, resulting in the appearance of small patches. These discolored areas may also be itchy and flaky. Small spots can later blend into larger patches, usually on the oily parts of the upper body like your chest and back. These spots become lighter or darker than the surrounding skin areas. Here we offer information, including some tinea versicolor pictures to help you recognize and deal with this common condition.
Tinea Versicolor Pictures and Symptoms
When you have tinea versicolor, you may have small, flat, round or oval spots that can coalesce to form bigger patches.
During summer, these spots become very noticeable because they do not turn dark or tan unlike the rest of the skin after being exposed to sunlight. They are also more common in places where there is warm and humid temperature. However, they become less noticeable during winter, when they seem to go away.
Symptoms and signs of tinea versicolor include:
- Scaly, discolored patches of skin
- Slowly growing patches on skin
- Patches becoming more obvious after sun exposure
- Mildly itchy patches
- Patches with different colors like pink, white, tan or dark brown
Tinea versicolor can affect anyone, regardless of natural skin color (see tinea versicolor pictures below). Spots are usually of one color in every person. Parts of the body that are commonly affected include:
- Upper arms
What Causes Tinea Versicolor?
The cause of this infection is a group of yeasts commonly found on normal skin. These consist of Pityrosporum orbiculare and Povale, which live on the stratum corneum (outermost layer of the skin) and the hair follicles. These also tend to have an affinity for the oil glands. These yeasts do not usually cause infection, but certain factors can cause them to produce rashes characteristic of tinea versicolor.
Some of the risk factors leading to the skin infection include:
- Excess humidity
- Excess heat
- Steroid therapy
- Compromised immune system
- Oral contraceptives
- Cushing's disease
- Removal of the adrenal gland
Other factors that can influence your risk of being infected with tinea versicolor include:
- Weakened immune system, which may occur during pregnancy or some form of other illnesses
- Use of some medicines like birth control pills, corticosteroids, or antibiotics
- Old age decreases your risk of infection because your skin becomes less oily
How Is Tinea Versicolor Diagnosed?
It is often identified by physical examination of the rash. Diagnosis may be augmented with the use of ultraviolet light, which makes the affected areas look fluorescent (color yellow-green).
A skin scraping may be obtained by your doctor from the areas affected. The skin sample is sent to the laboratory for microscopic examination to confirm your diagnosis. In children, a clear tape may be used to lift skin sample from the affected areas. The skin sample stuck to the tape is then placed directly on a glass slide to be examined under a microscope.
Treatment for Tinea Versicolor
Topical: These medications are applied locally to the affected skin.
- Ciclopirox cream, lotion/gel
- Selenium sulfide 2.5% lotion
- Ketoconazole shampoo/ cream
- Itraconazole capsules
- Ketoconazole tablets
- Fluconazole tablets
Here are some natural remedies if you find you have skin lesions similar to the tinea versicolor pictures above:
- Home-made body scrub: Slightly grind a handful of unpolished rice to create course flour. Rice flour contains many nutrients that can promote skin health and serve as an exfoliant. Add some fresh tomato juice to make a paste. Apply and massage into affected areas and leave on for five minutes.
- Apple cider vinegar: Alternatively you can useapple cider vinegar, which is acidic like tomato juice. It can help prevent the spread of the fungus and help skin recover its original color. Mix equal amounts of apple cider vinegar and lukewarm water. Dab a cotton ball in this solution and apply it on the affected area. Wait 15 minutes before rinsing it off with warm water. Follow this remedy once daily for a few weeks.
- Tea tree oil: Because of its anti-fungal properties, tea tree oil can inhibit the spread of the infection and prevent recurrence. In addition, it will provide relief from itchiness. To use, dilute with sweet almond oil and olive oil and apply the oil blend to your skin as a moisturizing cream after shower.
How to Prevent It from Coming Back
Tinea versicolor is sometimes difficult to treat because it tends to recur even after treatment. One way to prevent this is to treat your skin with the medicated shampoos every 2 to 4 weeks. This can keep the fungus away and prevent them from spreading or recurring. If your infection keeps recurring, ask your doctor if you can take oral antifungal tablets for 1-3 days every month as an alternative preventative measure.