Tinea versicolor, also known as pityriasis versicolor, is a common fungal infection that causes skin to have discolored patches and spots. These discolored areas can be lighter or darker than the surrounding skin and usually affect the back and shoulders. Read on to learn about 5 tips for treating tinea versicolor.
Know Whether or Not You Have It
The skin is the body’s largest organ and, as a result, is susceptible to various ailments. This is why it is important to make sure you have an infection before attempting to treat it. This is especially true when you consider the fact that nearly all skin conditions present with some sort of visible rash or discoloration.
Of course, your doctor should be able to diagnose this condition, but there is also a way to tell if you have it yourself. First, there will be a thin, tissue-like coating of fungus on the skin. The discolorations caused by the fungus will be white, pink, tan, or dark brown and should be more visible after sun exposure. The patches should also be scaly, itchy, and slow-growing.
If your symptoms match all of these, you can rightly assume that you have tinea versicolor. If you’ve confirmed it yourself, there is no need to see a doctor (at least, not at this point) as you can begin treating it yourself immediately.
Mild cases are easy to treat with over-the-counter creams, ointments, and shampoos. Anti-fungal lotions are particularly effective against this sort of infection. In fact, most fungal infections can be cleared up by these treatments, so even if you don’t have tinea versicolor your skin is likely to get better.
You’ll want to look for lotions that contain clotrimazole or creams that contain miconazole or terbinafine. These active ingredients are highly effective against fungal infections and should resolve an infection in a few weeks. For shampoos, look for those containing selenium sulfide (1 percent) as an active ingredient.
Apply creams or lotions to clean, dry skin twice a day for at least two weeks. Let shampoo sit on skin for at least five minutes before rinsing off. If there is no improvement in a month, you may need something stronger prescribed by your doctor.
First, you should understand that your skin may remain discolored for weeks or even months after successfully getting rid of the infection. But if the infection itself persists, you may need prescription-strength solutions. These include creams, lotions, gels, foams, and shampoos with ciclopirox, ketoconazole, or selenium sulfide (2.5 percent).
In addition to these topical solutions, your doctor may prescribe pills or tablets that you can take orally. These include all of the -azole capsules and tablets such as fluconazole, itraconazole, and ketoconazole. Some of these tinea versicolor treatments may need to be taken once or twice a month to take care of a persistent infection. Infections are also known to recur during warm and humid weather.
Protect Your Skin
Because this infection flourishes under hot and humid conditions, it is important to protect your skin accordingly. The yeast that causes this infection is actually naturally present on skin. It only becomes a problem when it spreads more than usual. Excessive sweating and sun exposure are two of the most common causes of tinea versicolor.
As a result, it is important to wear sunscreen whenever you are outside in warm weather. The minimum SPF you need is 30 and you should only use non-greasy formulas. Also, try not to wear tight or confining clothing as it will increase humidly on skin. Your skin will need to breathe in order to limit sweating.
Understand the Condition
The yeast, Malassezia (globosa or furfur), naturally lives on the skin and only causes an infection after spreading out of control. Since this yeast is naturally on skin, tinea versicolor is not at all contagious. In addition, it is not a marker of poor health. Besides the fact that a weak immune system and hormonal changes can cause Malassezia fungi to spread, people with this condition are no less healthy than those who don’t have it.
Moreover, it is important to understand that there are no significant health concerns associated with this condition. Certainly, the only issues are cosmetic and other minor problems such as itchiness. Unfortunately, however, a condition that is as minor as this typically continues without a permanent cure.
Therefore, if you do have tinea versicolor, you can probably expect it to recur at least once or twice yearly. Still, with everything mentioned here, you should be well equipped to deal with this condition so long as it persists. Naturally, you’ll want to be more prepared during the summer months. You’ll also want to start treating with some of the over-the-counter products mentioned earlier as soon as you notice the problem recurring.
About the Author: 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 write poetry.