Tinea versicolor

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Tinea versicolor
Tinea versicolor1.jpg
Classification and external resources
Specialty Dermatology
ICD-10 B36.0
ICD-9-CM 111.0
DiseasesDB 10071
MedlinePlus 001465
eMedicine derm/423
MeSH D014010

Tinea versicolor (also known as dermatomycosis furfuracea,[1] pityriasis versicolor,[1] and tinea flava)[1] is a condition characterized by a skin eruption on the trunk and proximal extremities.[1] Recent research has shown that the majority of tinea versicolor is caused by the Malassezia globosa fungus, although Malassezia furfur is responsible for a small number of cases.[2][3] These yeasts are normally found on the human skin and only become troublesome under certain circumstances, such as a warm and humid environment, although the exact conditions that cause initiation of the disease process are poorly understood.[2][4]

The condition pityriasis versicolor was first identified in 1846.[5] Versicolor comes from the Latin, from versāre to turn + color.[6]

Signs and symptoms[edit]

The symptoms of this condition include:

  • Occasional fine scaling of the skin producing a very superficial ash-like scale
  • Pale, dark tan, or pink in color, with a reddish undertone that can darken when the patient is overheated, such as in a hot shower or during/after exercise, tanning typically makes the affected areas contrast more starkly with the surrounding skin.[7]
  • Sharp border [8]

Pityriasis versicolor is more common in hot, humid climates or in those who sweat heavily, so it may recur each summer.[8]

The yeasts can often be seen under the microscope within the lesions and typically have a so-called "spaghetti and meatball appearance"[9] as the round yeasts produce filaments.

In people with dark skin tones, pigmentary changes such as hypopigmentation (loss of color) are common, while in those with lighter skin color, hyperpigmentation (increase in skin color) is more common. These discolorations have led to the term "sun fungus".[10]

Pityriasis versicolor commonly causes hypopigmentation in people with dark skin tones.


In cases of tinea versicolor caused by the fungus Malassezia furfur, lightening of the skin occurs due to the fungus' production of azelaic acid, which has a slight bleaching effect.[11]


Tinea versicolor fluorescence under Wood's lamp

Tinea versicolor may be diagnosed by a potassium hydroxide (KOH) preparation and lesions may fluoresce copper-orange when exposed to Wood's lamp.[12] The differential diagnosis for tinea versicolor infection includes:


Malassezia furfur in skin scale from a patient with tinea versicolor

Treatments for tinea versicolor include:

  • Topical antifungal medications containing selenium sulfide are often recommended.[12] Ketoconazole (Nizoral ointment and shampoo) is another treatment. It is normally applied to dry skin and washed off after 10 minutes, repeated daily for 2 weeks. Ciclopirox (Ciclopirox olamine) is an alternative treatment to ketoconazole, as it suppresses growth of the yeast Malassezia furfur. Initial results show similar efficacy to ketoconazole with a relative increase in subjective symptom relief due to its inherent anti-inflammatory properties.[14] Other topical antifungal agents such as clotrimazole, miconazole, or terbinafine can lessen symptoms in some patients.[citation needed] Additionally, hydrogen peroxide has been known to lessen symptoms, and on certain occasions, remove the problem, although permanent scarring has occurred with this treatment in some sufferers.[citation needed] Clotrimazole is also used combined with selenium sulfide.
  • Oral antifungal include ketoconazole or fluconazole in a single dose, or ketoconazole for 7 days, or itraconazole[15][16] The single-dose regimens, or pulse therapy regimes, can be made more effective by having the patient exercise 1–2 hours after the dose, to induce sweating. The sweat is allowed to evaporate, and showering is delayed for a day, leaving a film of the medication on the skin.[17]


This skin disease commonly affects adolescents and young adults, especially in warm and humid climates. The yeast is thought to feed on skin oils (lipids), as well as dead skin cells. Infections are more common in people who have seborrheic dermatitis, dandruff, and hyperhidrosis.[4]


  1. ^ a b c d Rapini, Ronald P.; Bolognia, Jean L.; Jorizzo, Joseph L. (2007). Dermatology: 2-Volume Set. St Louis: Mosby. pp. Chapter 76. ISBN 1-4160-2999-0. 
  2. ^ a b Morishita N; Sei Y. (December 2006). "Microreview of pityriasis versicolor and Malassezia species". Mycopathologia 162 (6): 373–76. doi:10.1007/s11046-006-0081-2. 
  3. ^ Prohic A; Ozegovic L. (January 2007). "Malassezia species isolated from lesional and non-lesional skin in patients with pityriasis versicolor". Mycoses 50 (1): 58–63. doi:10.1111/j.1439-0507.2006.01310.x. 
  4. ^ a b Weedon, D. (2002). Skin pathology (2nd ed.). Churchil Livingstone. ISBN 0-443-07069-5. 
  5. ^ Inamadar AC, Palit A (2003). "The genus Malassezia and human disease". Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol 69 (4): 265–70. PMID 17642908. 
  6. ^ "versicolor". Collins English Dictionary — Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. HarperCollins Publishers. Retrieved March 2, 2013. 
  7. ^ "What to Avoid While Treating Tinea Versicolor". Retrieved 2013-01-05. 
  8. ^ a b http://www.dermnetnz.org/fungal/pityriasis-versicolor.html
  9. ^ "Adolescent Health Curriculum - Medical Problems - Dermatology - Papulosquamous Lesions (B4)". Retrieved 2008-12-10. 
  10. ^ "Tioconazole (Topical Route) - MayoClinic.com". Retrieved 2008-12-10. 
  11. ^ Vary JC Jr (November 2015). "Selected Disorders of Skin Appendages-Acne, Alopecia, Hyperhidrosis". The Medical Clinics of North America 99 (6): 1195–1211. doi:10.1016/j.mcna.2015.07.003. PMID 26476248. 
  12. ^ a b Likness, LP (June 2011). "Common dermatologic infections in athletes and return-to-play guidelines.". The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association 111 (6): 373–379. PMID 21771922. 
  13. ^ http://dermind.tripod.com/tv.htm
  14. ^ Ratnavel RC, Squire RA, Boorman GC (2007). "Clinical efficacies of shampoos containing ciclopirox olamine (1.5%) and ketoconazole (2.0%) in the treatment of seborrhoeic dermatitis". J Dermatolog Treat 18 (2): 88–96. doi:10.1080/16537150601092944. PMID 17520465. 
  15. ^ Faergemann J, Gupta AK, Al Mofadi A, Abanami A, Shareaah AA, Marynissen G (January 2002). "Efficacy of itraconazole in the prophylactic treatment of pityriasis (tinea) versicolor". Arch Dermatol 138 (1): 69–73. doi:10.1001/archderm.138.1.69. PMID 11790169. 
  16. ^ Mohanty J, Sethi J, Sharma MK (2001). "Efficacy of itraconazole in the treatment of tinea versicolor". Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol 67 (5): 240–1. PMID 17664760. 
  17. ^ Ketoconazole

External links[edit]