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tinea versicolour

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Ringworm on the scalp



Sun fungus

Alternative Names
pityriasis versicolour

Tinea versicolour is a skin disorder that shows up as scaling patches primarily on the chest, shoulders and back. It can make dark skin appear lighter and light skin appear brownish.

What is going on in the body?
The cause of this skin disease is the overgrowth of a certain fungus. The organism is a yeast called Pityrosporum ovale, also known as P. orbiculare and Malassezia furfur.

What are the signs and symptoms of the condition?
Symptoms of the condition include:
  • scaly brownish patches.
  • scaly white patches.
  • possible itching.

What are the causes and risks of the condition?
Tinea versicolour is caused by a fungal infection.

What can be done to prevent the condition?
An individual can continue to use anti-yeast soaps and creams after the initial treatment.

How is the condition diagnosed?
A doctor can identify tinea versicolour by examining the skin. He or she may also perform a skin scraping to identify the yeast.

What are the risks to others?
It is not considered as being contagious because the yeast is found on everyones skin.

What are the treatments for the condition?
Treatments for the condition include:
  • topical anti-yeast agents such as selenium sulphide, azole antifungal creams and shampoos such as miconazole, clotriamazole or ketoconazole,
  • oral ketoconazole
What are the side effects of the treatments?
On rare occasions, oral ketoconazole may cause liver inflammation. There can also be a risk of drug interactions with ketoconazole use.

What happens after treatment for the condition?
After treatment, skin should clear up. It may take some months for natural pigment to return to the affected areas.

Author: Lynn West, MD
Reviewer: HealthAnswers Australia Medical Review Panel
Editor: Dr David Taylor, Chief Medical Officer HealthAnswers Australia
Last Updated: 1/10/2001
Potential conflict of interest information for reviewers available on request

This website and article is not a substitute for independent professional advice. Nothing contained in this website is intended to be used as medical advice and it is not intended to be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes or as a substitute for your own health professional's advice.  All Health and any associated parties do not accept any liability for any injury, loss or damage incurred by use of or reliance on the information.


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