Tinea Versicolor - Western SummaryWestern Medicine Summary

Western Medicine

Western Summary

Tinea versicolor (also known as pityriasis versicolor) is a rash that occurs due to overgrowth of a naturally occurring yeast on the skin.


The rash of tinea versicolor can have no symptoms at all or can sometimes be mildly itchy. Often there are pink, darker or lighter than normal skin color, and mildly scaly flat lesions on the skin. This is seen most commonly on the back, chest, shoulders, neck and upper arms, with an occasional appearance on the face.  


Tinea versicolor is caused by yeast in the Malassezia family. This is part of the normal assortment of yeast and bacteria that live regularly on our skin, and only leads to a rash in cases of overgrowth. 


In some people with darker skin types, the overgrowth can cause the skin to be come visibly darker (known as postinflammatory hyperpigmentation) or lighter (known as postinflammatory hypopigmentation) in the affected areas. Even after successful treatment, the change in skin color can persist for months as the color slowly goes back toward normal. 

  • There is a large selection of potential topical medical therapies. This includes creams, lotions and washes that are one of the following: antifungal, sulfide based, benzoyl peroxide, sulfur, salicylic or zinc containing. 
  • When the rash is resistant to topical treatment, antifungal/antiyeast pills can be prescribed by a physician. This can be a chronic and intermittently recurrent problem for some individuals, especially when they tend to sweat more in the warmer months or if exercising, and this can require multiple treatments.