Tinea versicolor, also known as pityriasis versicolor, is a rash caused by a superficial infection of the skin with a fungus called Malassezia furfur. While words like “pityriasis” and “Malassezia” may sound scary, this is actually a very common and totally harmless rash seen most commonly in teens and young adults. It usually occurs on the chest, back, and arms, and sometimes on the face. It is seen in the spring and summer months, or year-round in warmer climates. It may appear tan, pink, or brown and usually has a fine white scale that is particularly noticeable if you scratch it. The condition is sometimes itchy. Tinuea versicolor is usually flat or slightly raised, and individual circular spots may be seen or large areas of skin may be covered. Sometimes as the condition resolves, there are light spots that are left behind on the skin that can take several weeks or months to fade. Tinea versicolor is usually easily diagnosed by its appearance, and your physician may take a skin scraping to confirm the diagnosis. It is effectively treated by prescription topical antifungal medications, but oral antifungal pill are sometimes needed for a more extensive disease.
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