Fungal infection that tends to cause small discolored patches on your skin by interfering with its normal pigmentation is known as tinea versicolor. This condition mostly affects a person in teenage years and results in patches that are either lighter or darker than the surrounding skin. Also known as pityriasis versicolor, this condition is neither contagious nor painful but can result in an emotional and mental distress. This condition often tends to recur depending upon the weather conditions and are more apparent due to sun exposure.
In most cases, this condition affects the trunk shoulders and back of the body that can also cause mild itching. Let us get right into this article and get to know more about the condition of tinea versicolor from Dr. Nivedita Dadu, Renowned Dermatologist, Founder & Chairman of Dadu Medical Centre, Delhi NCR.
What is Tinea Versicolor?
A skin condition caused due to fungal infection that tends to result in the appearance of small discoloured patches in different parts of the body. This condition is a result of uncontrolled growth of a yeast type that lives on our skin. The fungus Malassezia which is a type of yeast that is found on the surface of the skin disrupts the skin’s pigmentation which causes the appearance of small, discolored patches. It takes up the form of discolored patches and spots that are itchy in nature.
Although this condition is not contagious or painful, it can create hindrance in a person’s daily life activities along with suppressing the body’s immune system. This is a recurring fungal infection condition that affects people mostly during their teenage years and is highly affected by the weather conditions. The patches caused due to tinea versicolor or pityriasis versicolor generally show up on a person’s trunk, back or shoulders.
Causes of Tinea Versicolor
Where a yeast called malassezia is the reason behind this infectious condition, it is important to know that this yeast generally lives on the surface of our skin. Tinea versicolor is caused when there is an uncontrolled growth of this yeast all over the skin due to some of the following reasons-
- Oily skin
- Hot or humid weather conditions
- Weak immune system
- Excessive sweating
- Hormonal changes
Symptoms Of Tinea Versicolor
It is important to know about the symptoms of a particular condition for early detection and timely treatment. Where the occurrence of patchy spots is not always an indication of tinea versicolor, one can look out for these signs and symptoms to confirm this condition.
- Mild itching around the affected area
- Discolored patches
- Dry skin
- Excessive sweating
How to Diagnose Tinea Versicolor
Where symptoms are an alarming sign of a condition, one needs a proper diagnosis to get to the root of the problem. Here are some of the diagnosis techniques that your doctor might use to diagnose the condition of tinea versicolor-
- Skin Biopsy- A diagnosis treatment that requires a skin sample that is scraped from the affected area. This sample is then taken under a microscope for closer observation.
- Black Light Examination- A diagnosis process that uses ultraviolet lights that are reflected on the affected area. If the color of light turns fluorescent in color, then it is an indication of tinea versicolor
- Potassium hydroxide microscopy- A very unique technique that includes dipping the removed skin cell into potassium hydroxide and observing it under a microscope.
Treatment for Tinea Versicolor
Tinea versicolor being an infectious disease caused due to an uncontrolled growth of malassezia yeast living on the skin. The treatment for this condition can be done in one of the following ways-
- Topical Antifungal- Application of a topical antifungal on the effective area in the form of lotion or cream can help in controlling the growth of this infectious yeast. Tinea versicolor can be treated with the use of over-the-counter products such as shampoos that contain selenium sulfide and anti-fungal creams, ointments containing miconazole, clotrimazole or terbinafine.
- Antifungal pills- Over the counter pills are used in the case of severe or recurring tinea versicolor by the doctor. These medications come in use when the infection needs to be cleared up fast or in case of severe infection. Where consumption of this medication can lead to some serious side effects and hence it should only be consumed on a doctor’s prescription.
Ways to Prevent Tinea Versicolor
Tinea vascular is a skin condition that can cause a lot of discomfort. As said that prevention is better than cure, here are some preventive measures as suggested by Dr. Nivedita Dadu-
- Wear loose Fitting clothes so that the skin can breathe. Tight clothes tend to create a breeding ground for yeast.
- Avoid using products that can make the skin oily as the appearance of moisture on the body for a long time can cause fungal infection.
- Always shower immediately after the workout to prevent a sticky, warm space for yeast to grow.
- Avoid going out in harsh sunlight and always keep an anti-fungal shampoo or cream on hand.
- Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a non-greasy formula every day. This can help the skin protect against any rash or infection caused by sun damage.
- Use anti-fungal shampoo or cream once or twice a month, especially in the warm months.
With inputs from Dr. Nivedita Dadu, Renowned Dermatologist, Founder & Chairman of Dadu Medical Centre, Delhi NCR