Tinea Versicolor

Dr. Ajay Mohan (AIIMS)MBBS

January 11, 2019

April 21, 2021

Tinea Versicolor
Tinea Versicolor

What is tinea versicolor?

Tinea versicolor, also known as pityriasis versicolor, is a condition where the fungus Malassezia, which is normally found on the skin surface, grows out of control and affects the skin. In this condition, patches of a lighter or darker shade appear on the skin, commonly on the neck, the chest, the back, and the arms. The condition is harmless but needs medication to control and cure.

What are its main signs and symptoms?

The most definitive and concrete signs of developing tinea versicolor are the appearance of discoloured patches on the skin. These patches are generally of a lighter shade than the skin tone but can also be darker, pinkish, reddish or brown. In some cases, the patches can be dry and scaly resulting in itching. The infection typically occurs over body parts that have a tendency to sweat like the groins, armpit, under the breasts, skin folds like tummy, inner thigh, neck and the back.

What are the main causes?

The main causes of developing tinea versicolor are environmental and biological factors around the habitat of the person. A humid or warm climate resulting in excessive sweating can lead to the development of this condition. Other causes of tinea versicolor are:

  • A family history of tinea versicolor.
  • Drug abuse which weakens the immune system.

How is it diagnosed and treated?

A physical examination of the affected area can help diagnose the condition; however, rarely, for definitive diagnosis the physician may order for a number of tests:

  • Skin scraping and testing for the presence of fungal growth.
  • Lab tests for determining a fungal growth like the Wood Lamp’s test.

To curb and cure the condition, the doctor may prescribe anti-fungal pills and personal care products like an anti-fungal lotion and anti-fungal shampoo. Typically these products contain medicines like ketoconazole, permethrin and others. Maintaining personal hygiene like wearing loose-fitting cotton clothes, bathing twice a day using soap and water and keeping the skin dry are important for the rapid cure and to prevent recurrence.


  1. National Health Service [Internet]. UK; Pityriasis versicolor.
  2. American Academy of Dermatology. Rosemont (IL), US; Tinea versicolor.
  3. Karray M, McKinney WP. Tinea (Pityriasis) Versicolor. [Updated 2019 Apr 1]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2019 Jan-.
  4. InformedHealth.org [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. Tinea versicolor: Overview. 2014 Dec 17 [Updated 2017 Jun 1].
  5. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: US National Library of Medicine; Tinea versicolor.

Medicines for Tinea Versicolor

Medicines listed below are available for Tinea Versicolor. Please note that you should not take any medicines without doctor consultation. Taking any medicine without doctor's consultation can cause serious problems.