10 Things You Should Know About Tinea Versicolor to Help Treat it Better

Tinea versicolor disease is a result of Malassezia globosa fungus developed excessively on human skin under certain circumstances, such as a warm and humid environment, although the exact conditions which cause this disease is not properly identified.. Read on to learn about the 10 things you should know about tinea versicolor.

1. What it Looks Like
It is quite easy to diagnose this condition and you can probably even do it yourself. The infection presents with a tissue-thin coating of fungus on the skin. Underneath this fine coating, the skin discolorations will be white, pink, tan, or dark brown. Their exact color depends on number of different factors, but in all cases they will be noticeably different from your normal skin tone and will become even more noticeable after sun exposure.


2. What it Feels Like
In most cases the patches of skin affected by the infection will be somewhat scaly and dry. Many people also experience itchiness, but it is almost always minor. In the event that itchiness is severe or the patches are painful, see a doctor right away as it is likely a more serious condition.

3. How to Treat it Yourself
Treating this condition is relatively easy and, in most cases, it can be treated with over-the-counter topical solutions. These solutions come in the forms of different ointments, lotions, creams, and shampoos. The active ingredients to look for include clotrimazole, miconazole, terbinafine, and selenium sulfide (1 percent).
These antifungal solutions are also effective against a variety of other skin infections, so you'll likely see results even if you’re not certain you have this particular infection. Lotions, creams, and ointments should be applied to clean, dry skin twice a day for two weeks. Shampoo should be left for between five and ten minutes before rinsing.

4. When to See the Doctor

If skin doesn't improve after one month of consistently treating with over-the-counter solutions, it is time to see a doctor. Your doctor will be able to prescribe topical solutions as well as orally ingested pills that are much stronger than over-the-counter options.

Prescription-strength treatments include topical options containing ciclopirox, ketoconazole, or selenium sulfide (2.5 percent) and pills or tablets containing fluconazole, itraconazole, or ketoconazole.

5. What to Expect
Although the condition is easy to treat, it is not something for which we have a permanent cure. Consequently, it is common for an infection to recur once or twice a year, mainly during the summer months. To combat this, some doctors will prescribe ongoing tinea versicolor treatment that can be taken once or twice a month.

In addition, it is important to understand that your skin can take weeks or even months to even out. Do not confuse persistent discoloration with a persistent infection. On the other hand, if the discoloration begins to slowly spread, your infection is still there or has returned.

6. What it is Not
Because most skin conditions present themselves in similar ways, it is important to know the difference between this condition and the others that most closely resemble it. Pityriasis alba, for instance, is a mild form of eczema that leaves skin patchy and lightened. Pityriasis alba, however, is most common in young children whereas tinea versicolor is common in teens and adults. Pityriasis alba also presents on the face in addition to other places, whereas this infection is typically confined to the shoulders, chest, and back.

Vitiligo is another condition that changes skin's pigment. It, however, usually presents around eyes, lips, and joints. In addition, vitiligo causes skin to be as white as porcelain and the changes in skin color are permanent.

7. Where it Comes From

The infection is caused by the over-spreading of the yeast, Malassezia globosa or Malassezia furfur. This yeast naturally lives on the skin of biological adults and only causes this condition if it spreads more than usual. Some scientists believe that there may be genetic factors which cause the yeast to be more abundant on certain people.

8. How it Spreads
Malassezia furfur spreads with hormonal changes, excessive sweating, and sun exposure. The skin is the largest organ in the body and is very sensitive to all of these factors. In addition, the yeast can spread more rampantly when you immune system has been weakened or compromised.

9. How to Prevent it
Some people can never really hope to prevent tinea versicolor in all situations. As mentioned earlier, once you have tinea versicolor, it is likely to recur eventually and, for some people, genetic factors may be involved. Still there are a few things you can do.

For one, wear sunscreen whenever you're out under bright, hot conditions. The minimum SPF you should use is SPF 30 and you should only use non-greasy formulas. Also, when it is hot and humid, you'll want to wear loose, breathable clothing. Tight clothing will increase the humidity on the surface of your skin and cause you to sweat more—two factors that will cause the infection to spread.

10. Health Effects
Since Malassezia furfur is naturally on skin, this condition is not at all contagious. For the same reason, it is also not suggestive of poor health—people with tinea versicolor are just as healthy as those without it.
Nor are there any significant health issues associated with the condition. In fact, the only concerns are temporary and cosmetic or otherwise minor such as itchiness. Therefore, once you understand how to manage tinea versicolor, you can continue living a happy, healthy life.

Dorian Love, a writer who can write about anything from Australian real estate to the history of identity theories. In fact, he has written about these and many more topics for the past five years. Books and articles are his main forte, he also writes poetry.

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