What is Tinea Versicolor?
Tinea Versicolor is a skin infection which occurs due to fungus, accompanied by skin eruptions on proximal extremities and on the trunk area. Also known as Pityriasis Versicolor and it is mainly caused by the yeasts which live on the skin, called Malassezia. This medical condition is not contagious however, the disease Tinea Versicolor weakens and suppresses the immune system of the body.
What is Malassezia yeast?
Malassezia globosa is a type of fungus which is found naturally on the surface of the skin and in normal conditions does not create any health issues. Malassezia flourishes in large communities on human skin and in turn protect the human skin from pathogens which can create harm or cause diseases. The Malassezia yeast flourishes on our skin in harmony by establishing a symbiotic relationship with skin cells and tiny organisms which support and encourages each other.
However, in the humid and warm environment, the growth of this Malassezia yeast becomes uncontrollable. In those cases when the growth of Malassezia yeast goes out of control it starts affecting the color of the surface of the skin where it resides on. Subsequently, pigmentation in the form of patches is seen and the skin shade turns darker or lighter.
What are the causes of Tinea Versicolor?
Explained in simple terms, the sole reason for the occurrence of Tinea Versicolor is the abundance of Malassezia yeast on the human skin. Some of the various reasons due to which the growth of these organisms may go out of hand and continuously enhance their growth are:
- Warm, hot and extremely humid weather
- oily skin
- excessive sweating
- hormonal changes
- weakened immune system
A statistical analysis of the occurrence of this disease explains that it may occur to people irrespective of ethnic backgrounds and skin color, however, Tinea Versicolor is more commonly observed in adolescents (owing to the evident hormonal changes). It is also commonly observed in people who may visit geographic regions with a subtropical climate.
What are the symptoms of Tinea Versicolor?
The signs which may start appearing to warn one against the occurrence of Tinea Versicolor are:
- A frequent occurrence of fine scaling on the skin which might produce an artificial ash-like scale.
- The patches formed are pigmented in white, red, brown or pink color and mostly lighter or darker in shade as compared to the surrounding skin.
- Pale, pink or dark tan color with a light reddish undertone which might darken once the affected person comes in an environment which might be overheated during or after physical exercise which involves a lot of sweating.
- Spots may occur anywhere but are quite frequently visible on the affected person’s neck, chest, back, and arms.
- The spots which occur have sharp boundaries
- These spots have a tendency to not tan the way like the rest of the skin.
- The spots which occur as a resultant of Tinea Versicolor will have a tendency of disappearing during those times when the affected person is present in a cool atmosphere, however, they start reappearing as soon as the person comes in contact with warm or humid temperatures.
- The spots might itch, be dry and scaly and may also create discomfort and pain
Diagnosis of Tinea Versicolor
Consult a doctor as soon you notice the symptoms. The diagnosis of the medical condition is done by identifying the type of rash or pigmentation which starts occurring on the skin. An ultra-violet light ray is flashed on the surface which appears to be fluorescent greenish-yellowish in color in those areas where the patches or spots start occurring.
Skin samples are also taken by scratching off certain areas of the affected skin to study the skin cells and associated microbes under a microscope. Potassium hydroxide is used to testify the growth percentage of the Malassezia fungus. Another diagnosis is done with the help of Wood’s lamp in which case the affected spots show a copper orange color.
- Progressive macular hypomelanosis
- Pityriasis Alba
- Pityriasis Rosea
- Post-inflammatory hypopigmentation
- Seborrheic dermatitis
What are the risk factors involved with Tinea Versicolor?
There are various environmental and biological factors which put one at a higher risk for the occurrence of Tinea Versicolor disease. These are the following reasons:
- A family history of the occurrence of Tinea Versicolor disease
- A tendency of excessive sweating
- A humid and warm climate living
- A normally frequently weak immune system
- Side effects of consuming medicines which may weaken the immune system
- Some particular types of cancers
What causes the change of pigmentation on the affected surface skin?
The change in the pigmentation occurs due to the production of azelaic acid by the Malassezia fungus. The acid released by the yeast, when absorbed by the skin induces a bleaching effect on the skin.
Who is more likely to get infected with Tinea Versicolor disease?
Young adults and adolescents, especially those undergoing puberty, and those visiting or living in geographic locations with extreme humid and hot temperatures, subtropical climate. The yeast, Malassezia is believed to feed on skin oils or lipids, and on dead skin cells. Resultant of this is the occurrence of this infection mostly in people who have dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis, and hyperhidrosis.
When should you go to the doctor?
With the use of over the counter (o-t-c) antifungal medications one can treat Tenia Versicolor themselves and can eliminate the medical condition by disappearing the patches on the skin.
However, even if these medicines prove to be ineffective in removing the patches, you should visit a doctor and get prescribed medications for removal of patches as well as control of the Malassezia yeast.
Tinea Versicolor Pictures