Tinea Versicolor: A Common Skin Condition

What Is Tinea Versicolor?

white patches on back

Tinea versicolor is an incredibly common skin condition caused by a fungal infection. In this condition, overgrowth of yeast leads to white or pink scaly patches, typically across the back and torso. Tinea versicolor most often affects adolescents and is found more often in males than females.


Tinea versicolor is caused by overgrowth of the Malassezia yeast. Excessive growth of this yeast can be brought on by any of the following factors:

  • Hot, humid weather
  • Oily skin
  • Weakened immune system
  • Hormonal changes


There is only one type of tinea versicolor.


  • Patches of white or pink skin
  • Patches of skin that do not tan normally with sun exposure
  • Mild itching
  • Rough, scaly patches of skin
  • Scaling, flaking skin

white patches on stomach


Your primary care physician can diagnose tinea versicolor but they may refer you to a dermatologist to rule out other skin conditions that can present similar symptoms.


Most patients do not seek treatment for tinea versicolor and opt to let it run its course. If itching and scaling become so severe that they are bothersome, treatment may be necessary. The most common treatment for tinea versicolor is topical antifungal medication. In extreme cases where topical medication does not resolve the infection, oral antifungals may be needed. Applying hydrogen peroxide to the affected skin has also shown to reduce some of the itching and irritation associated with tinea versicolor as well as shorten the duration of the condition.

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