Tinea Versicolor

Tinea versicolor (also called pityriasis versicolor) is an overgrowth of a type of yeast that naturally lives on the skin. A bleach product from the expanding yeast causes the skin color to change and results in small spots to larger patches that are usually lighter but can be darker than the surrounding skin. It is a common infection usually seen on the chest, upper back, neck or arms and is often more problematic when it is warm and humid. It is not contagious.

Signs and Symptoms:

  • White to pink spots on light skin or tan to dark spots on darker skin
  • Usually found on upper body (chest, back, neck, and arms)
  • Prevents skin from tanning evenly
  • Slight itching is possible, often no symptoms present


  • A topical anti-fungal cream, lotion or shampoo may be prescribed by a healthcare provider, with an oral anti-fungal medication sometimes tried depending on the severity of the condition. Skin pigment will gradually return, but it usually takes weeks to months to return to a more normal appearance.


  • Wash hands frequently
  • Avoid sharing personal items
  • Try to reduce time in the sun, and use sunscreen if sun exposure anticipated
  • Wear loose fitting clothing to help minimize sweating
  • Change out of wet or sweaty clothing quickly

Because recurrences can often occur, maintenance use of medicated cleansers may be recommended several times a month to help in prevention.