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Tinea Versicolor

When you see someone with darker or lighter patches of skin color means, that someone has tinea versicolor.  Tinea versicolor (or pityriasis versicolor in medical term) is a skin infection caused by the fungus, Pityrosporum ovale.  It prevents the normal tanning of the skin causing the affected area to have a lighter patch of skin color. 

Tinea versicolor commonly affects young people, especially in their back, chest, and upper arms and legs.  It is more apparent during warm and humid temperatures because the growth of these fungi is triggered.  Other factors that elicit its growth are excessive sweating, hormonal changes, oily skin and immunosuppresion. 

This skin problem is not catching because the fungus in itself is part of the normal skin.  It usually takes several months for the patches of skin color to even out with the area that is not affected but eventually it does. 

How do we treat tinea versicolor?  Numerous remedies have been proven effective in treating tinea versicolor.  Antifungal agents, selenium sulfide shampoo, antifungal creams and oral medications, to mention a few.

Antifungal agents are the most common treatments applied to this skin problem.  There are a lot of over-the-counter ointments like clotrimazole or miconazole.  They are spread over the affected area and should be used for about 10-14 days. 

Another remedy is the application of selenium sulfide shampoo, usually Selsun Blue.  It is put over the uneven patches at night and washed off in the morning. Do this for ten (10) days and your tinea versicolor is gone like magic.  But this kind of treatment can be irksome.    

And the simplest is oral treatment.  A single dose of ketoconazole, of which the most common brand is Nizoral, or five doses of itraconazole daily are the oral therapies that doctors usually prescribe. But do not self-medicate.  Certain medications may interact with this and it is always best to consult a professional before taking anything. 

But the lesions of tinea versicolor do not easily disappear after the successful treatment which misleads people to the idea that the fungi is still there.  Hence, it is always best to treat the problem as soon as spots appear. 

Prevention is always better than the cure.  Avoiding oily products on the skin is one.  And avoiding the use of tight or nonventilated clothing is another.  Stay away from the sun.  Heat activates growth of these fungi.  Doctors may also prescribe oral treatment, taken once a month to prevent the recurrence of this skin disorder

It is always best to consult a professional if the skin problem doesn't improve with any kind of medication or treatment.  As the famous saying goes, the doctor always knows best.