Pityriasis versicolor

What is Pityriasis Versicolor?

Pityriasis Versicolor, also known as tinea versicolor, is a common skin condition that may develop in people of any age. It is an infection of the skin caused by a type of yeast that is known as Malassezia globosa. This yeast grows actively in warm and humid conditions on the surface of the skin. The most common signs of pityriasis versicolor are patches of discolored skin that may vary in color, including pink, red, tan or white, and a scaly, flaky surface.

Causes of Pityriasis Versicolor

Pityriasis versicolor is caused by an overgrowth of a fungus known as Malassezia, which is found on the skin of most healthy people. This fungus grows more actively in warm and humid conditions. It is more likely to affect people between the ages of 20 and 40, and is more common in people with darker skin. Other factors that can increase the risk of the condition include:

  • Obesity
  • High levels of perspiration
  • A weakened immune system
  • A high-fat or low-fiber diet
  • A history of the condition
  • Taking certain vitamins or medications
  • Hormone imbalances

Symptoms of Pityriasis Versicolor

The most common symptom of pityriasis versicolor is patches of discolored skin that may vary in color, including pink, red, tan or white. This discoloration is often accompanied by a scaly, flaky surface. Other symptoms may include itching, drying or cracking of the skin and an increased sensitivity to sunlight.

Diagnosis of Pityriasis Versicolor

In order to diagnose pityriasis versicolor, a doctor may perform a physical exam and ask questions about your medical history and lifestyle. A sample of the affected skin can also be taken and tested for the presence of the yeast responsible for the condition.

Treatment of Pityriasis Versicolor

Pityriasis versicolor is usually treated with an antifungal medication that is applied directly to the affected area. This medication may be in the form of a cream, lotion, shampoo or ointment. For severe cases, an oral medication may be prescribed. In most cases, the condition will clear up in a few weeks.

Prevention of Pityriasis Versicolor

You can reduce your risk of developing pityriasis versicolor by keeping your skin clean and dry, avoiding tight-fitting clothes and regularly using an antifungal soap or shampoo. You should also take steps to reduce your risk of becoming overweight and maintain a healthy diet to help boost your immune system.