What is pityriasis versicolor? A blog about what pityriasis versicolor is and how you can treat it.


Pityriasis versicolor is a fungal infection of the skin. It is caused by a yeast which naturally lives on the skin surface, however, when conditions are suitable, it can grow out of control. This usually happens during hot sticky weather.

This fungus can affect anyone but is most common in teenagers and young adults. For most people the infection will clear up without treatment. However, if you have dark skin or you get regular infections then you may need treatment to stop the infection from coming back (recurring).

Pityriasis versicolor does not cause any symptoms other than discoloured patches on the skin. This means that it does not itch or hurt and does not affect your general health. Sometimes it is possible to feel fine scales on the patches, but this is uncommon.

The patches that appear as a result of pityriasis versicolor are usually slightly paler than your usual skin colour and do not tan. Often they are slightly pink and may be scaly. They often appear on the chest, back and shoulders but can also occur on other areas of the body, including the neck, upper arms and face. The patches may join together to form larger areas of discolouration.

If you are reading this article, it’s likely that someone has suggested to you that you may have pityriasis versicolor (PV). In the past, PV was called tinea versicolor, but doctors now know that it is not a type of ringworm, which is caused by a fungus from a different family.

What is it?

Pityriasis versicolor (also known as dermatomycosis furfuracea) is a very common skin condition and affects 1-3% of the population. It is especially more common in tropical climates and occurs most often during puberty and young adulthood.

Pityriasis versicolor is caused by yeast. Yeast lives naturally on your skin and only becomes an issue when there is an overgrowth of yeast. This usually occurs in warm and humid conditions, such as tropical climates.

The symptoms of pityriasis versicolor include:

Small patches of discolouration on the skin – these are usually lighter or darker than your normal skin tone

These patches may be scaly with a fine surface scale; however, they will not itch or burn like other types of rashes

The top layer of the skin may peel off in large flakes

The patches can

Pityriasis versicolor is a common skin condition that mainly affects teenagers and young adults. It is caused by a yeast-like fungus called Pityrosporum ovale. The rash often appears on the upper chest, back, shoulders or neck in hot weather when the skin gets moist. In the majority of cases it doesn’t cause any symptoms but can sometimes be itchy or sore.

Pityriasis versicolor is not contagious and cannot be passed from one person to another. People with this rash do not need to avoid contact with other people.

Pityriasis versicolor is also known as tinea versicolor. However, pityriasis versicolor is not a type of ringworm (tinea). Ringworm is caused by a different type of fungus (dermatophyte) and typically causes a red, scaly ring-like rash that spreads outwards from the centre of the body (for example, groin, armpits or scalp).

Pityriasis versicolor is a common skin condition that causes small discoloured patches to develop on the body.

The patches are usually light brown, red or pink and often have a slightly flaky or scaly surface. They usually develop on the trunk, neck, upper arms and thighs.

In most cases, the patches do not cause any symptoms, but they can sometimes be itchy.

Pityriasis versicolor is common and is not contagious (passed from person to person). It affects people of all ages and can occur in people with both fair and dark skin tones.

Pityriasis versicolor is a long-term (chronic) skin condition caused by a yeast infection. The yeast that most commonly causes pityriasis versicolor is called Malassezia.

The yeast affects the top layer of skin, causing it to lose its normal colour and take on a pink or red, flaky appearance.

The condition is common, particularly in teenagers and young adults, but can affect people of any age. It’s not contagious – you can’t catch it from other people.

It occurs more often in warm weather, when the yeast that causes the condition tends to thrive in hot, humid conditions. Pityriasis versicolor may also be triggered by hormonal changes during puberty and pregnancy.

Pityriasis versicolor isn’t usually serious or harmful, but it can have an impact on your confidence and self-esteem as it can cause white patches to develop on your skin.

The patches are harmless and usually fade when the weather cools down, although they tend to recur each year in the summer months unless they are treated with antifungal cream or tablet treatment.

Pityriasis versicolor is a common, benign, cosmetically disfiguring, chronic relapsing superficial fungal infection of the stratum corneum. It is caused by the lipophilic yeast Malassezia furfur (also known as Pityrosporum ovale), which under certain circumstances can lead to overgrowth and subsequent colonization of the skin surface. The most plausible explanation for this overgrowth is believed to be an impaired acid mantle or an altered cutaneous microflora. The lesions usually appear between the ages of 15 and 25 years, but they may occur at any age. They are more frequently seen in hot and humid climates, where they may remain active throughout the year.


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