If you’ve ever noticed a light spots of discolouration on your skin, you’re not alone. Tinea versicolor, also known as pityriasis versicolor, is a very common superficial yeast infection, which is particularly prevalent in young adults and adolescents.
What exactly is tinea versicolor and what are its symptoms?
According to Dr Tony Caccetta, a dermatologist at Perth Dermatology Clinic, the skin condition is caused by an overgrowth of the malassezia yeast, which we all have living on our bodies. This overgrowth causes white, red or brown scales usually on the chest, back, stomach and upper arms.
What causes it?
Caccetta says there are a number of factors that can increase your chance of developing tinea versicolour.
“Overgrowth of the yeast usually occurs in hot and humid weather, with excessive sweating and/or occlusion from heavy moisturisers," he told Women's Health. So avoiding or minimising these factors may help prevent it.
It's important to note that it's not contagious.
How do you treat it?
"Treatment usually involves a topical anti-fungal preparation being applied to the skin for three to seven days," Caccetta says. "This will reduce the overgrowth of the yeast and scale, but the colour change in the skin may take longer (often months) to return to normal following treatment."
Caccetta also says it is not uncommon for the condition to return and require repeated treatment.
Tinea versicolor only affects sufferers on a surface level, so while you might feel self conscious about the spots, you won’t experience any pain or discomfort from having it.