Sometimes, the greatest damage done by skin conditions can be psychological rather than physical. This is the case with benign skin lesions like liver spots and seborrheic keratosis, most moles and stretch marks and is also the case with tinea versicolor. Tinea versicolor while annoying isn’t dangerous and is usually not uncomfortable in any way.Some people are uncomfortable with the way it affects their look and since it’s relatively easy to treat it’s usually not a problem to get rid. Here, we’ll look at causes, symptoms, different treatment options and what you can expect from your trip to the doctor.
Tinea versicolor is a fungal infection. It’s caused by a particular species of yeast, Malassezia globosa (and on occasion, Malasezzia furfur). Both of these yeasts typically live on human skin and it’s only under very specific circumstances that they become problematic. Unfortunately precisely what circumstances those are aren’t well understood but several risk factors have been identified.
Those include living in hot and humid climates, suffering from hyperhidrosis (a propensity to excessive sweating), having moderate to severe dandruff or suffering from seborrheic dermatitis. Excessive sweating creates a moist warm environment in which the yeast can thrive and living in a hot humid environment makes such conditions a fact of life. Dandruff gives the yeast something to feed on and seborrheic dermatitis may be caused by Malassezia infection which could clearly result in conditions apt for the development of a subsequent tinea versicolor condition.
Symptoms of tinea versicolor are primarily visual. The condition produces elliptical or amoeboid splotches on the skin that can be pink, white or red in color and which can merge with one another to form large patches of affected area, scaling of the affected area, sharp delineations between the splotches and nonaffected areas and occasional itching in some patients.
The most obvious symptom of tinea versicolor is the white splotchiness mentioned above. This affects just about everyone who presents the condition and is the most distressing symptom since itching is usually not so severe as to cause any serious problems.
What You Can Expect from the Doctor
Usually a trip to the doctor when you have a tinea versicolor problem is pretty straightforward. They’ll collect a history, as always, examine the affected areas, and in some cases, take a skin scrape to send to the lab for testing to verify if it’s indeed a Malasezzia infection or not. Once all that’s through you’ll start discussing treatment options, which are many and all of which are gentle.
None of the treatments for Malasezzia infection are invasive and there are two common approaches. The first is a topical anti-fungal medication that you apply in the form of a cream, shampoo, lotion, or soap. A number of these are available over the counter a common choice is Selsun Extra Strength, which is 2.5% selenium sulfide. There are also other options are miconazole, clotrimazole and terbinafine. More often than not these are sufficient for the treatment of basic cases of tinea versicolor.
If the condition is a little more advanced or if your doctor is more comfortable with this option, you might discuss anti-fungal medications delivered orally. These are also easy to take – you just swallow as with any pill – but can have side effects so it’s important to ensure you remain monitored while on the drug.
Just because you eliminate a tinea versicolor problem once doesn’t mean it’s eliminated for good – because the rashes are caused by yeasts that occur naturally on the skin, it’s easy for them to reappear under the right conditions. That’s why it’s important to take preventative measures. These include wearing sunscreen if you’ll be outside frequently, avoiding tight clothing if you sweat a lot (and even if you don’t), avoiding oily products on the skin and applying anti-fungal shampoos to areas normally affected whenever you have to expose yourself to sunlight or find yourself in situations where you sweat a lot. A final basic prevention tip is to shower immediately after exercise and to make sure you dry yourself off well so as to make survival more difficult for the yeast.