Tinea Versicolor

Skin Conditions & Treatments > Tinea versicolor

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Dermatology A-Z

            Young, healthy, active people who live in hot, humid climates (Houston, anyone?) are prone to developing tinea versicolor. It is caused by a yeast on the skin that grows when you are sweaty. I don't see too many couch potatoes with this condition so take heart that you must be doing something right for healthy living! The yeast can cause small, usually penny-size, slightly scaly light or dark spots on the skin. Frequently, my patients are not even aware that they have this condition and we find it at their annual full body skin check. It is usually not bothersome but can be cosmetically distressing because when you go out in the sun, the skin with the most yeast gets an odd discoloration, usually lighter than the surrounding skin.

            Treatment for tinea versicolor is safe and simple. I usually start with having you wash with Selsun Blue, the anti-dandruff shampoo with selenium sulfide, as a body wash. It works better if you apply it and leave it on for a few minutes (brush your teeth, play a song on your guitar or something) and then hop into the shower so it has some time on your skin to work. Continue daily until it has improved, usually 3-4 weeks. The yeast will be diminished much sooner than you will see the color of your skin even out (think of how long a bad farmer's tan on your arm takes to even out). In some cases, I will prescribe a topical or oral anti-fungal medication when the rash is particularly extensive or when selsun blue has not helped.

            Tinea versicolor tends to recur for people every spring or summer. It is a good idea to get started on the Selsun Blue routine before it gets hot every year so you can prevent and diminish your tinea versicolor before it happens.

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