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Home :: Pityriasis Versicolor

Pityriasis Versicolor

This is a common skin disease caused by an overgrowth of the yeast fungus called Pityrosporum orbiculare (Malassezia furfur).

Most adults have Pityrosporum orbiculare on their skin; however, in a few people its presence results in a harmless skin disease. Pityrosporum orbiculare also plays a role in the development of cradle cap (seborrhoeic dermatitis).


  • Infection with the developing stage of a yeast, pityrosborum orbiculare. The infection is contagious, but how it spreads is unknown.
  • Environmental exposure to heat and high humidity make infection more likely.
  • Repeated injury to the skin of athletes increases the likelihood due to excessive perspiration, increased heat, friction of clothing and protective gear.

Signs and symptoms

Lesions with the following characteristics:

  • Lesions on exposed skin are white; on covered areas, they are brown or brownish red.
  • Lesions are flat with clearly defined borders. They don't scale unless scraped.
  • Lesions begin at 3mm to 4mm in diameter and spread. They often join together to form large patches.


A scrape should be taken for microscopy and cultivation in a laboratory. Pityrosporum orbiculare gives out yellow-green when exposed to ultraviolet light (Wood's light examination).


Topical antifungal agents are effective in eradicating the lesions. These medications include clotrimazole, ketoconazole, and miconazole.

Over-the-counter dandruff shampoos applied to the skin for 10 minutes each day in the shower may also eliminate tinea versicolor.

Home Treatment

  • Apply prescribed medicine with cotton balls to affected parts once a day for 3 weeks. Rinse off in 30 minutes if you wish.
  • Expose affected skin to air as much as possible.
  • Repeat treatment prior to tanning season each year.

People with a history of tinea versicolor should attempt to avoid excessive heat or sweating. In addition, a dandruff shampoo applied to the skin area for 10 minutes each week may help prevent recurrences.

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