Pityriasis Versicolor

Pityriasis Versicolor (Tinea Versicolor)

What is pityriasis versicolor?

Pityriasis versicolor is a common skin infection, which is caused by a fungus (yeast) known as Malassezia furfur. These organisms are part of the normal flora of our skin. They normally grow in the scalp, face, and chest without causing a rash. Malassezia furfur grows more actively on the skin in some people causing a characteristic rash. Pityriasis versicolor infection is common in young adult males and adolescent. It usually occurs in hot and humid climates.



  • It affects the face, neck, chest, back, underarms, upper arms, and legs.
  • The skin lesions are well-defined, discoloured patches with fine scales.
  • Skin lesions are pink, dark tan, or pale in colour.
  • Skin discolouration may be hyperpigmented (an increase in colour), or hypopigmented (loss of skin colour).
  • Increased sweating and itching are other features of the infection.



Examination of skin scrapings (by potassium hydroxide mount) under a microscope will show the fungus.



  • Topical application of an anti-fungal cream. E.g. Clotrimazole, Miconazole, Econazole, or Ketoconazole
  • Topical application of selenium sulfide shampoo
  • Topical application of Propylene glycol, Sodium thiosulphate, Terbinafine gel, or Ciclopirox cream
  • Oral anti-fungal medication in severe infection. E.g. Ketoconazole, Fluconazole, or Itraconazole

Sometimes, pityriasis versicolor may recur after successful treatment.


(Photo courtesy: Sarah (Rosenau) Korf)

About the author
Dr. Nalaka Priyantha is the founder and author of 'DRN Health'. He currently works at the Ministry of Health, Sri Lanka as a senior medical officer. He is blogging about healthy living since 2012.
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