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Diseases reference index «Tinea versicolor»

Tinea versicolorTinea versicolorTinea versicolor

Tinea versicolor is a long-term (chronic) fungal infection of the skin.


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

The condition is most common in adolescent and young adult males. It typically occurs in hot climates.


The main symptom is patches of discolored skin with sharp borders (edges) and fine scales. The patches are often dark reddish-tan in color. The most common sites are the back, underarms, upper arms, chest, and neck. Affected areas do not darken in the sun (skin may appear lighter than surrounding healthy skin)

In African Americans, there may be loss of skin color (hypopigmentation) or an increase in skin color (hyperpigmentation).

Other symptoms include:

  • Increased sweating
  • Itching

Exams and Tests

A skin scraping that is examined under a microscope should show the yeast.


Treatment consists of applying antifungal medicines 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 skin.

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.

Alternative Names

Pityriasis versicolor