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Tinea Versicolor

Tinea versicolor is a skin condition that appears as light colored or sometimes red, scaly patches on the chest, back, arms, neck, and sometimes even face.  Tinea versicolor is caused by overgrowth of a yeast normally found on the skin (Malassezia).

Tinea Versicolor


What is Tinea Versicolor?

Tinea versicolor is a non-contagious, fungal skin condition that is especially common in tropical and subtropical areas of the world. It appears as light colored or sometimes red, scaly patches on the chest, back, arms, neck, and sometimes even the face.

Tinea versicolor is caused by an overgrowth of a yeast normally found on the skin (Malassezia). The yeast is not problematic in its normal growth on the skin.  However, during times of increased sweating or sometimes due to emotional stress, the yeast can multiply and become irritating to the immune system.  When this occurs, the areas can become itchy and red.  In addition, the yeast produces an enzyme that decreases the skin’s production of melanin, so the skin in the area often becomes lighter in color.

How is Tinea Versicolor Treated?

The treatment of tinea versicolor involves decreasing the number of yeast on the skin as well as calming the body’s reaction to the yeast. Topical anti-yeast creams are used twice a day until the itching and scaling are improved. In addition, it is recommended that anti-yeast shampoos be used weekly as a body wash. This will decrease the number of yeast on the body each week, which helps prevent recurrence. Oral medications (pills) are available for more severe or resistant cases.

How long does it take the skin to recover?

The discoloration of the skin will correct itself over weeks to months as the skin recovers. The presence of the discoloration does not mean that the yeast are still active. It takes time for the skin to begin producing pigment normally again.

For more information, or to set up a consultation with Dr. Jennifer Janiga to discuss evaluation of and treatment of tinea versicolor in our Reno / Tahoe dermatology and plastic surgery office, please send us an email or call 775-398-4600. Appointment length varies but is usually not more than 15-30 minutes.

Jennifer J. Janiga, MD, FAAD

Dr. Janiga enjoys taking care of both adults and children. Her extensive training and years of experience in medical dermatology, lasers, and cosmetic procedures allows her to treat her patients with the comprehensive attention they deserve.

Dr. Janiga listens attentively to what patients have to say, and works with them in planning the right course of action on an individual basis. Honest talk, humility and a fresh perspective paired with years of experience and education all contribute to the effectiveness of her straightforward care.