Menu   WellSpan Health

Health Library

Health Library

Tinea Versicolor

What is tinea versicolor?

Tinea versicolor is a common fungal skin infection caused by yeast on the skin. It is also called pityriasis versicolor. It is characterized by lighter or darker patches on the skin. Patches are most often found on the chest or back and prevent the skin from tanning evenly. It occurs mostly in adolescence and early adulthood due to oily skin, but it can occur at any time.

What are the symptoms of tinea versicolor?

Usually, the only symptom of tinea versicolor is the white or light brown patches with well-defined borders. Patches may scale slightly, but rarely itch or hurt. Other common characteristics of the rash include the following:

  • White, pink, or reddish-brown patches

  • Infection only on the top layers of the skin

  • The rash usually occurs on the trunk

  • The rash does not usually occur on the face

  • Patches worsen in the heat, humidity, or if you are on steroid therapy or have a weakened immune system

  • Patches are most noticeable in the summer

  • Affected areas do not darken in the sun

The symptoms of tinea versicolor may resemble other skin conditions. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.

How is tinea versicolor diagnosed?

Tinea versicolor is usually diagnosed based on a medical history and physical examination. The patches seen with this condition are unique, and usually allow the diagnosis to be made on physical examination. In addition, your doctor may use an ultraviolet light, called a Woods Lamp, to see the patches more clearly. Also, your doctor may do skin scrapings of the lesions to help confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment for tinea versicolor

Specific treatment for tinea versicolor will be determined by your doctor based on:

  • Your age, overall health, and medical history

  • Extent of the condition

  • Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies

  • Expectations for the course of the condition

  • Your opinion or preference

Treatment usually includes the use of an antifungal or dandruff shampoo on the skin, as prescribed by your doctor. Tinea versicolor usually recurs, requiring additional treatments. Your doctor may also prescribe topical creams or oral antifungal medications. It is also important to know that improvement in the skin may be only temporary, and a recurrence of the condition is possible. Your doctor may also recommend using the shampoo monthly to help prevent recurrences. The treatment will not bring the normal color back to the skin immediately. This will occur naturally and may take several months. People with this condition should try to avoid excessive heat or sweating.  

Tinea Versicolor - WellSpan Health

Online Medical Reviewer: Jones, Niya, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Ziegler, Olivia Walton, MS, PA-C
Last Review Date: 2013-02-01T00:00:00
Last Modified Date: 2013-02-12T00:00:00
Posting Date: 2008-11-30T00:00:00
Published Date: 2013-02-12T00:00:00
Last Review Date: 2007-03-30T00:00:00
© 2015 WellSpan Health. All Rights Reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

Are you sure you would like to cancel?

All information will be lost.

Yes No ×

About the provider search

This search will provide you with WellSpan Medical Group and Northern Lancaster County (Ephrata) Medical Group primary care physicians and specialists. If we don’t have a WellSpan Medical Group physician to meet your criteria, the search will expand to include community physicians who partner with WellSpan Medical Group physicians through the WellSpan Provider Network or provide care to patients on the Medical Staffs of WellSpan’s Hospitals.

×

Schedule Your Next Appointment Online with MyWellSpan

Use your MyWellSpan patient portal any time to view available appointments, and pick the date and time that best suits your schedule.

Go to MyWellSpan

New to this practice?

If you don't have a WellSpan primary care provider and would like to schedule a new patient appointment with a provider who is accepting patients, just log into your MyWellSpan account, and go to the Appointment Center section. As you progress through the scheduling process, you will be able to see the offices that are accepting new patients in relation to your zip code. If you are not enrolled in MyWellSpan, go to www.mywellspan.org, call 1-866-638-1842 or speak with a member of the staff at a participating facility to sign up. New patient scheduling not available at all practices/programs.

Already a patient at this practice?

If you already have a relationship with a WellSpan practice, simply log into your account, and go to the Appointment Center section. As you progress through the scheduling process, you will be able to schedule an appointment with any provider or practice that already counts you as a patient. Online scheduling varies by practice/program.

×