Contributors: Aisha Powell and Dr. Emran from Simple Health Radio

On today’s episode, Dr. Emran will be discussing tinea versicolor which is a fungal or yeast infection on the skin that affects many young, active adults and teenagers.

The patient was a 15-year old male named “Jaquan”, a healthy basketball player, who came to see Dr. Emran after his mother didn’t see improvement with a rash on his back. She had noticed the rash back in June but thought it would disappear on its own. By the time her son returned from a basketball camp in August, the rash had doubled in size.

Jaquan had no particular symptoms; no itchiness, pain or drainage. His mother used over-the-counter medicine to treat the rash but instead, it worsened and spread to his chest.

After examining Jaquan, Dr. Emran noted no other abnormalities other than the rashes, which were lighter in pigment than the rest of Kwan’s body.

There were no other causes of concern like acne, infections, injuries or scars. The rashes were asymmetrical or not evenly distributed across his back.

Dr. Emran identified the rashes as tinea versicolor

Tinea versicolor is a slow-growing fungal infection that is normal for teenagers and young adults. It’s most prevalent in people with darker skin compared to those from the Caucasian descent. In tropical climates, up to 50 percent of people can be affected with the infection, usually younger individuals. The rash thrives in climates that are hot and humid causing people to sweat while allowing the yeast cells to multiply. Natural oils on the skin can also enhance the growth of the fungus.

Because teenagers are most likely to be outside being active and sweating, more cases of tinea versicolor are seen on them. The skin changes color because the infection grows below the layer of outer skin causing hypo-pigmentation. That means that region of skin is lighter than the surrounding areas. This is the opposite of hyper-pigmentation where the skin becomes darker than the surrounding areas.

Tinea Versicolor is not harmful and it can be treated with fungal medications including special shampoos and anti-fungal creams. Treatment must be administered for 2-3 weeks on a regular basis in order to work. If your body is resistant, oral medicine such as Fluconazole or antifungal pills can work as well.

Summary –

  1.    Tinea versicolor is a harmless fungal infection that causes small rashes and pigment change on the skin.
  2.    The infection can affect anyone, but it mostly appears in young adults and teenagers who are highly active
  3.    Tell your dermatologist or doctor about symptoms to get diagnosed and begin treatment
  4.    Specialized medications, with selenium, can treat the infection but only if you are consistent with treatment for 2 to 3 weeks.




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