Dr. M.J. Bazos, Patient Handout

About Your Diagnosis
Tinea versicolor is a common skin disorder caused by a type of yeast. This yeast is normally found on the skin of most individuals. During hot, humid weather the yeast can overgrow and cause changes in the skin. Tinea versicolor is not considered to be contagious. It is usually diagnosed on visual inspection, but examination of a small sample of infected skin under a microscope can be helpful. Tinea versicolor is treatable but cure usually takes weeks to months.

Living With Your Diagnosis
Tinea versicolor starts as small, tan, scaly patches on the skin, most commonly on the back and upper chest. The neck and arms can also be affected. These can grow and come together to form large patches. When exposed to the sun, the patches do not tan, so they appear lighter than surrounding skin.

Lotions such as selenium suspension 1/2 are usually prescribed to treat tinea versicolor. First bathe and dry off. Apply the lotion to all the involved areas. Wash the medicine off after 24 hours, and repeat once a week for 4 weeks. Retreatment every 3 months may be necessary in some cases. If selenium suspension irritates sensitive skin, then apply for 10 minutes only. Repeat this every day for 3 days, then once a week for 1 month. Your doctor may prescribe other topical lotions or creams if selenium does not work. In cases that do not respond to topical medications, your doctor may prescribe an antifungal medication to be taken orally. Antifungal pills taken by mouth rarely cause changes in liver function tests, and your doctor may periodically check your stomach.

The DOs
• Take all medications as prescribed, and follow your doctor’s recommendations for follow-up.
• Keep skin clean and dry; dampness causes tinea versicolor to grow faster.
• Bathe and dry off every day, and wear clean cotton clothing.
• When your skin is improved, inspect it weekly for recurrences and begin treatment early. It is easier to treat smaller areas.
• Be patient. Even after treatment it can take months for pigment to return to the affected areas.
• Use sunscreen during treatment, and wear a hat and long- sleeve shirt when in the sun.

The DON’Ts
• Don’t apply lotions or creams to red, inflamed, or swollen areas on the skin, or to any break in the skin.
• Avoid the sun especially from 11 AM to 3 PM. Sun tanning will cause tinea versicolor to look worse.

When to Call Your Doctor
• If not improved after 3 or 4 months.
• If any other symptoms occur such as skin redness or swelling.