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)