Tinea versicolor is a common skin condition caused by the overgrowth of a type of yeast that is ubiquitous on human skin. The overgrowth causes uneven skin color and scaling that may be mildly itchy and unsightly. Tinea versicolor is not contagious. Pigment changes may last for months after treatment. The condition may come back during the warm months.
When the yeast grows in colonies, it produces a chemical that causes the skin to change color. The spots may appear pink or coppery brown in patients with fair skin. In darker skinned individuals, the spots may appear lighter than the surrounding skin. The rash tends to appear on the upper back, shoulders, and chest, where the yeast thrives. It may also be seen on the limbs and face.
Tinea versicolor may be associated with excessive perspiration. People with tinea versicolor may notice that it comes back or worsens during hot summer months, and becomes more noticeable with sun exposure.
Treatment consists of antifungal medications applied to the skin. These medications include clotrimazole, ketoconazole, miconazole and terbinifine. Many over-the-counter dandruff shampoos contain antifungal ingredients and can be applied to the skin for 10 minutes each day in the shower to treat the lesions. In cases of persistent tinea versicolor, oral antifungal medications may be recommended.