Tinea versicolor is a common fungal infection of the skin, most often seen in teenagers and young adults. It usually manifests as small dry scaly oval pink or light brown patches that coalesce to form large rashes on the upper back, chest and shoulders. The fungus interferes with the normal tanning process and therefore the areas of skin infected usually develop loss of pigment. Growth of the fungus is enhanced by heat and sweating and therefore the rash is usually more active in summer and often recurs each summer.
The fungus causing this condition lives naturally within the oil glands on everyone's skin, but for unknown reasons only certain people get overgrowth of this fungus with subsequent rash. The fungus is not contagious or spread person-to-person.
Tinea versicolor can be treated with antifungal creams, shampoos or pill medications. The creams can be applied daily until the rash resolves, but then should be continued 2 or 3 times weekly all through the summer to help prevent a relapse, which otherwise is quite likely to occur. The scaly rash and any itching should resolve in just a few days, but the loss of skin color will persist for months after the rash is healed. However, with efforts to keep the fungus from relapsing, the skin should gradually begin to repigment slowly and eventually resume its normal color after a few months.
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