What is pityriasis versicolor? | Dave Wilkins MD


Pityriasis versicolor is a chronic, but benign skin condition caused by the yeast Malassezia furfur. The yeast normally lives on our skin, but can overgrow and cause a rash to erupt, especially in warm and humid conditions.

Pityriasis versicolor is a very common skin condition affecting about 1% of the population at any given time. For whatever reason it is more common in adolescents and young adults. It is also more common in men than women.

The disease causes tan or brown patches of skin, on the chest and back. These patches tend to be round or oval-shaped, with a sharp border that distinguishes them from surrounding normal skin. The patches have a characteristic appearance on examination under the microscope which permits an accurate diagnosis to be made by your dermatologist.

Although pityriasis versicolor is rarely itchy, it can cause some scaling of the affected skin. As its name suggests (“pityriasis” meaning scales), this may be more obvious when you scratch through the scales and see the discolored skin beneath.

Pityriasis versicolor is a common skin condition that affects 1-2% of people. It appears as small, flat, discolored spots on the skin. The spots range in color from pink to tan, brown or white. The spots don’t tan in the sun like the rest of your skin does, so they’re more noticeable when you’re exposed to sunlight. Some people call pityriasis versicolor “tinea versicolor,” but this name is misleading because it may make you think you have a fungal infection.

What causes pityriasis versicolor?

Pityriasis versicolor is a chronic condition caused by yeast (fungus) that lives on the skin. The yeast causes a rash that is not contagious. It does not itch, but it can sometimes be uncomfortable.

The most common symptom is a rash with small, flat, round spots that are lighter in color than your skin. The spots can be either red, pink, brown or white. They tend to be on the upper back, chest and shoulders. When it is warm and humid, the spots tend to be more noticeable.

The spots are all in cluster formations and have distinct borders (edges). They have a tendency to become larger as they grow together.

Some people have some darker spots where there was a tinea versicolor spot before treatment. These dark spots usually resolve over time or with treatment.

Pityriasis versicolor is a common skin disorder that usually presents as small, scaly patches of skin on the chest and back. Often, these patches have more of a pink-red or brownish color than the surrounding skin. The patches may or may not be itchy. They are sometimes mistaken for sunburns or tans, by patients and doctors alike. The condition is most common in young adults under the age of 30.

Pityriasis versicolor is caused by an overgrowth of yeast that occurs naturally on our skin. This yeast belongs to a family of yeasts called Malassezia, which are part of the normal flora of our skin and don’t usually cause disease unless they grow out of control. Pityriasis versicolor is most common during summer months when we sweat more and wear fewer clothes, but many patients experience it throughout the year. It often recurs in the same patient without treatment, so long term control is recommended.

It’s important to note that pityriasis versicolor can mimic other more serious conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and tinea corporis (ringworm). So if you develop a rash like this, it’s best to see your doctor for a

Pityriasis versicolor is a chronic, benign skin condition. It usually presents as light brown or pink scaly patches on the trunk and proximal extremities.

The yeast that causes pityriasis versicolor, Malassezia furfur, is part of the normal skin flora in many people. Most of the time it does not cause a problem. It does however enjoy hanging out in a warm moist environment (which is why pityriasis versicolor tends to present more commonly in the summer months) and when given the right conditions, it can grow and cause an itchy skin rash called pityriasis versicolor.

A few things will make one more susceptible to developing pityriasis versicolor:

• oily skin

• sweating

• immunosuppressive disease (including HIV/AIDS)

• certain medications (corticosteroids, birth control pills and some antifungal medications)

Pityriasis versicolor is easily treated with an antifungal medication. Most commonly selenium sulfide 2.5% shampoo (Selsun Blue®) is recommended for use twice weekly for two weeks. This regimen has been shown to be effective in over 90% of patients. Sh

Pityriasis versicolor is a common skin condition that is often misdiagnosed. The term itself can be confusing since it is the name of the disease and its most common presenting sign (versicolor means “various colors”).

This post will try to sort out some of the confusion about pityriasis versicolor, a topic which can be quite confusing for both physicians and patients.

In this post we will cover:

Pityriasis versicolor (also known as tinea versicolor) is a common, benign skin disease that is caused by overgrowth of the Malassezia fungus. The rash consists of slightly scaly, mildly itchy, pink or brown patches on the chest and back. The color may change with sun exposure.

The most common treatment for pityriasis versicolor is antifungal creams or shampoos. One application of shampoo is usually curative but the rash often returns, usually requiring regular applications for a period of time.


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