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  • Nov 11, 2018

Pityriasis Versicolor

Pityriasis Versicolor

(Other Name: Tinea Versicolor)


Pityriasis Versicolor is one of the commonest fungal skin infections which causes light or dark different colored patches on skin that stand out against the background of surrounding normal skin. The patches may be scaly and it usually affects adults



Pityriasis Versicolor is caused by a fungus which is normally present on the skin of most of us. Ordinarily, this fungus, called Malassezia does not result in any infection but in some cases, it starts multiplying rapidly resulting in patches with fine scales and one or more colors. Such patches appear over chest, back, neck, arms, and abdomen but any areas of our bodies might get affected. The patches are a few mm. to few cm. in size and tend to converge and enlarge. These patches are generally of a lighter color but may be of dark color, or even red, brown, or pink varieties. A single patient may develop patches of different colors simultaneously. The location and appearance of lesions usually alarm the patients and their families. Some patients often confuse this condition with leucoderma. Authentic knowledge about the true nature of Pityriasis Versicolor can save the stress and burden of attempting remedies with questionable outcomes.

That Pityriasis Versicolor is still so rampant despite its easy diagnosis and effective treatment shows that public awareness about its causes and preventive measures is inadequate.



Quick facts


  •          Pityriasis Versicolor is not infectious and hence it cannot be transmitted by a patient to others.
  •          The cases occur in people of all colors in almost every part of the world but most of them arise in the tropics. In India, more than 1 million new cases are reported every year.
  •          It is mostly a disease of adults but the infection can  affect any age group in any gender.
  •          Hot and humid weather tend to facilitate development of infection. That explains why lesions tends to disappear spontaneously in winter and reappear with onset of sweating in summer.
  •          Generally, an infected person has no symptoms but some patients might experience itching and a deep concern about discoloration of their skin. The cause for discoloration is accumulation of  products of the causative fungus


Features, Self Help, & Tips for Prevention


Pityriasis Versicolor is not an indicator of poor hygiene and does not spread from person to person.


In most cases, Pityriasis Versicolor can be diagnosed based on clinical examination alone. In doubtful cases a simple microscopic or dermoscopic examination is carried out. In order to exclude leucoderma, a special light like Wood’s Lamp may be used. Laboratory investigations other than skin scrapings examination for fungal elements are rarely required.


Treatment of Pityriasis Versicolor involves agents that retard growth of fungus, enhance shedding of the infected skin, or kill the fungus. Some of commonly used agents are shampoos, creams, lotions, or foam containing antifungal medication. The medicated shampoo should be left after massage onto the lesions for about 10 minutes or more, with repeat applications as prescribed to get best results. In case you get irritation over skin due to use of medicated shampoo, you can dilute it with plain water. Such applications need to be repeated weekly for several weeks to months.


Anti fungal creams are effective and you should use them on a regular basis. Oral antifungal agents further accelerate recovery process.


Please bear in mind that skin discoloration is unlikely to go away long after the infection has been controlled because color changes are an after effect of infection. The damage to color producing components of skin takes longer to heal than the killing of infection causing microorganisms.


Pityriasis Versicolor is known for recur, and more so with the onset of summer season. Such recurrences can be avoided by adopting simple measures like:

Staying in a cool environment

Avoiding oily skin preparations

Minimizing sweating

Using porous fabrics that are not tight fitting to allow skin ventilation

Preventing malnutrition to maintain a healthy immunity level

Pityriasis Versicolor need not be dreaded but dealt with appropriate medication and preventive strategy for a complete and lasting recovery.





You are permitted to share, distribute, print, or reproduce this article for private use with proper citation of the source. The article is a part of our service to fellow human beings as a means of health education and awareness enhancement to minimize dependence on healthcare


Dr Vinay Kumar

Senior Consultant Dermatologist



+91-93 199 299 00


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