Tinea versicolor is one type of fungal infection due to which a few portions of the skin color gets darker or lighter in color than normal. It is also known as pityriasis versicolor. These darker or lighter macules and patches are generally found on chest, back, upper arms, and legs.
They are often called hyperpigmented or hypopigmented macules and patches. The number of these spots on one’s skin might vary in number. Although recurrent in nature, this skin infection is not contagious and doesn’t interfere with the overall health of the patient.
Formation of Pityriasis Versicolor
As mentioned earlier, tinea versicolor occurs due to the presence of some resident fungal substance. This fungus is otherwise harmless and resides in almost all adult skins.
However, they cause the infection whenever they proliferate abnormally under the upper skin surface. There are certain favorable environmental and physiological conditions in which this fungal growth tends to expand, namely:
- Excessive perspiration
- Oily skin
- Hormonal imbalance
- Hot and humid atmosphere
- Immunosuppression – a skin condition in which the natural immunity system of our body fails to provide protection against yeast or fungal growth.
Prevention and Treatment for Tinea versicolor
Prevention: Anyone suffering from this fungal infection must stay away from certain conditions which might give rise to it. Influential factors like application of oil on the skin or wearing tight apparels which might prohibit proper ventilation and cause too much sweating, must be avoided.
Since this skin pigmentation is recurrent in nature, preventive steps to stop it from reappearing are also as important as treating it. Applying selenium sulfide lotion on the affected areas after each two or three weeks is proven to be fruitful. Ketoconazole tablets and itraconazole capsules also deliver similar outcome in preventing the fungal growth.
Treatment: Self-treatment methodologies work well in mild cases of tinea versicolor. Antifungal topical over-the-counter products are the best options in this purpose. Selenium sulfide shampoo (1%) or Selsun Blue is mostly recommended to be used on the affected skin surface. Selsun is applied at night and rinsed off in the morning.
However, as per the users comments Selsun generates some kind of irritation after the initial application of it and it is also a little tough to apply on spots that are hard to reach like those on the back. Apart from this, clotrimazole and miconazole has also gained immense popularity for evading this fungal infection. Topical application of these OTC remedies 10 to 14 times a day exerts powerful action to reduce the fungal growths. These creams come in tubes and therefore it is relatively easier to apply them as compared with Selsun.
Rigorous medical care and doctors’ advice might be necessary in severe and persistent cases of tinea versicolor where self-care methodologies fail to work. Self-treatment might be continued for 4 weeks, still if there is no satisfactory progress, one must consult a doctor without wasting time. The physician might recommend an initial diagnostic procedure which might include skin scrapings from the infected portion.
Physicians generally recommend same or similar topical and oral remedies as used in self-care medication, but in the form of stronger prescription drugs. Selenium sulfide again is prescribed broadly by dermatologists but this time at 2.5% strength. Aside from selenium sulfide, ciclopirox or ketoconazole are also suggested quite often. Ciclopirox is available in the form of creams, gels, or lotions, and ketoconazole is either a cream or shampoo.
All these medicine are for topical use and they are undoubtedly prescription drugs. Nevertheless, simpler forms of oral medications are also sometimes preferred by the skin professionals. Out of these the names of ketoconazole, itraconazole, and fluconazole are most prominent.
One must not forget that even though tinea versicolor is not a serious threat, but it is extremely intermittent in nature. Even after a successful treatment, the pigmentations might persist for a considerable duration until they fade away completely.
And the most perturbing matter about this disease is that it is quite likely to reappear again and again. Therefore it is suggestible for anyone having this infection that prevention is the best cure for this disease. They might be suppressed effectively only if the preventive steps are followed on a regular basis.