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What Is Pityriasis Versicolor or Skin Fungus?

Tinea versicolor, skin fungus and pityriasis are three names for the same disease: a fungal skin infection. It is provoked by a fungus and lives on human skin. When it overgrows, the disease becomes visible and sores develop.

Pityriasis VersicolorSkin fungus may occur mostly in person who

  • have greasy skin
  • live in a warm climate
  • sweat a lot
  • have a weakened immune system

This infection is not contagious, and it mostly affects adolescents and young adults.

Symptoms of pityrasis versicolor

  • discoloration of the skin due to the spreading of the fungus
  • skin will develop white, pink, red or brown spots that won’t tan in the sun
  • these spots may appear everywhere on the body, but most of the time they can be found on the neck, chest, back and arms
  • they may disappear during the cold season and reappear when weather turns hot and humid. Sometimes they may dry and peel off, other times they cause sores.

Treatment of pityriasis versicolor

Treatment consists of topical use of creams, lotions and shampoos. Sometimes using medicine is recommended; the type of treatment depends on the size, location and spreading of the spots.

  • Topical antifungal creams soaps, lotions, foams and shampoos are applied directly on the skin. These products prevent further spreading of the infection. They contain ingredients such as zinc, pyrithion, selenium, miconazole and clotrimazole.
  • Antifungal pills are used to treat more serious or recurrent cases of tinea versicolor, and a prescription is needed to obtain them. Even if this treatment is effective, discoloration of the skin needs a few months to disappear.

How to avoid skin fungus or how to keep it under control

  • Avoid oil-based skin care products
  • Reduce exposure to sun, as too much sunlight worsens periods when infection is active, and makes spots more remarkable
  • If necessary, use an antifungal shampoo daily during summer
  • Use sunscreen every day for UV protection
  • Don’t wear tight clothes
  • Wear cotton clothing in order to reduce transpiration