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Tinea Versicolor

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Oct 3, 2022.

What is tinea versicolor and what causes it?

Tinea versicolor is an infection that leaves colored spots on your skin. Tinea versicolor is caused by a fungus that is normally present on your skin. This infection is not harmful.

What increases my risk for tinea versicolor?

Tinea versicolor is not spread from one person to another. Fungus that is normally present on your skin overgrows and causes tinea versicolor. The following increase your risk for tinea versicolor:

  • Skin moisture from sweating or wearing tight clothes
  • Living in hot, humid weather
  • Conditions such as a weak immune system or pregnancy
  • Certain medicines such as steroids or birth control pills

What are the signs and symptoms of tinea versicolor?

You may not have any symptoms until you see spots on your skin. You may have many oval, patchy spots on your chest, back, arms, or face. They may be white, pink, red, or brown. The spots may be close together and cover a large area. They may be lighter than the rest of your skin in summer and darker in winter. The spots may itch.

How is tinea versicolor diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider may be able to tell you have tinea versicolor by the shape and color of the spots. He or she may gently scrape off some of your skin and look at the sample through a microscope.

How is tinea versicolor treated?

Tinea versicolor is usually treated with an antifungal cream. You may need to use the cream for up to 4 weeks to treat your symptoms. You may also need to use a special shampoo on your skin. Apply the cream or shampoo as directed. It may take several weeks or months after treatment for the color of your skin to return to normal.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

View more treatment options

How can I manage or prevent tinea versicolor?

Tinea versicolor usually comes back, especially in hot and humid times of the year. You can manage the symptoms and help prevent it. Keep your skin clean and dry. Dry your skin completely after you bathe and play sports. Dry between your toes, between folds, and other areas where skin touches skin. You may also need to apply a special shampoo to your skin each month to prevent anther infection.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • Your infection does not get better within 2 weeks of treatment.
  • Your signs and symptoms get worse or come back after treatment.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Learn more about Tinea Versicolor

Treatment options

Symptoms and treatments

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.