Simply put, tinea versicolor is nothing to be afraid of – just a mild skin infection. But if it sounds scarier than it really is, what is tinea versicolor?
Also called pityriasis versicolor, tinea versicolor is a common fungal infection that can cause patches of discoloration on the skin’s surface. Normal amounts of yeast exist within our skin, but tinea versicolor is an infection that’s caused by an overgrowth of yeast, which is a type of fungus. This overgrowth causes discoloration that appears either lighter or darker than the overall color of the skin.
While it’s not exactly clear what causes pityriasis versicolor, certain factors can increase yeast growth, including hot, humid weather, excessive sweating, oily skin, and/or a weak immune system.
Tinea versicolor is especially common in tropical or subtropical climates and commonly affects teens and young adults, but is easily treatable and isn’t contagious. While the discolored patches may last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, the infection can be treated — and cured — with topical solutions such as anti-fungal creams, shampoos, and soaps.