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Tinea Versicolor - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment


Definition

Tinea versicolor is a common skin condition due to overgrowth of skin surface yeast. It is a common, benign, superficial cutaneous fungal infection usually characterized by hypopigmented or hyperpigmented macules and patches on the chest and the back. In patients with a predisposition, the condition may chronically recur. This overgrowth results in uneven skin color and scaling that can be unsightly and sometimes itch. The yeast normally lives in the pores of the skin and thrives in oily areas such as the neck, upper chest, and back. This fungus produces spots that are either lighter than surrounding skin or reddish-brown. There may be just a few spots or many. Antifungal creams, lotions or shampoos can help treat tinea versicolor. But even after successful treatment, skin color may remain uneven for several weeks, and the infection may return, especially in warm, humid weather. In African Americans, pigmentary changes are common with hypopigmentation or hyperpigmentation.

Causes

  1. It is not clear what triggers the yeast to change its form but some risk factors for tinea versicolor are known.
  2. Healthy skin may normally have the fungus that causes this disorder growing in its pores i.e. the opening of the hair follicles. Tinea versicolor occurs when the fungus becomes overgrown.
  3. The fungus bread sharply in hot and humid condition or weather.
  4. Excessive sweating may be the other reason.
  5. Oily skin has very high risk to cause this disease.
  6. The condition is more prone when the immune system is unable to protect the body from the growth of yeast or fungus on the skin or elsewhere.

Symptoms

  1. Persistent patches of discolored skin may appear in this disease.
  2. The patches are often dark tan with a reddish cast.
  3. The patches have sharp borders and have fine scales.
  4. Most common sites where it occurs are back, underarm, upper arm, chest, and neck. Although it may occur anywhere on body.
  5. It is most common in adolescent and young adult males.
  6. Patches worsen in the heat, humidity, or if you are on steroid therapy or has a weakened immune system.
  7. The symptoms of tinea versicolor may resemble other skin conditions. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.

Treatment

  1. There are many antifungal agents available to apply to the skin for the treatment of tinea versicolor. Over-the-counter remedies include clotrimazole and miconazole.
  2. Effective topical agents include selenium sulfide, sodium sulfacetamide, ciclopiroxolamine, as well as azole and allylamine antifungals.
  3. Oral therapy is also effective for tinea versicolor and is often preferred by patients because it is more convenient and less time consuming. Ketoconazole, fluconazole, and itraconazole are the preferred oral agents.
  4. Even after successful treatment, your skin color may remain uneven for several weeks. Also, the infection may return in warm, humid weather. In rare cases, you may need to take a medication once or twice a month to prevent the infection from recurring.
  5. Your child's physician may also recommend using the shampoo monthly to help prevent recurrences.
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