Pityriasis Versicolor

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Pityriasis Versicolor, also known as Tinea Versicolor is a skin infection caused by fungi and is characterized by changes in skin pigmentation.

The spots that appear due to pityriasis versicolor are irregular, well defined, stretched and brown in color (or light brown compared to the surrounding healthy skin if the basic phototype is dark). This happens because the yeast interferes with the production of melanin.

Usually the parts that are most affected by Versicolor are the arms, chest, face, shoulders and neck, but the patches can also be located on other parts of the body.

Usually it is an asymptomatic mycosis and therefore sometimes, an itch could be found. This disease has no immune response, much less does it produce it.

Pityriasis versicolor is quite common around the world and affects people in good health.

Those most affected live in tropical and sub-tropical regions than those who live in other climatic zones. Women between the ages of 20 and 29 are affected with particular frequency and adolescents are affected with equal frequency.

Some recent studies have succeeded in proving the theory that tinea versicolor has a familial predisposition.


Symptoms of pityriasis versicolor are:

  • presence of veins on the skin, mainly on the back, chest, neck and upper arms, which may appear lighter or darker (depending on the color of the complexion)
  • slight itching is always present
  • flaking similar to that of dandruff

The appearance and expression of the disease may differ according to the age and type of skin.

Babies and infants, for example, have spots that are lighter than normal skin color and are found basically on the face. They can be smooth or covered with fine scales, almost like dandruff.

On the other hand, adolescent and adult spots are of a variable color and widespread on the upper limbs. If the spots are scratched, scales form (again as fine as dandruff).

Except a slight itch, this skin disease does not cause any kind of pain.

But is pityriasis versicolor contagious? Absolutely not, it is not a communicable disease, but it is a fairly common problem since almost 90% of the population hosts the yeast of Malasezzia furfur on their skin flora.

Tinea versicolor is considered chronic-relapsing and therefore can occur several times and create a negative social impact on the style and quality of life of the people who suffer from it.

How to diagnose pityriasis versicolor?

pitiriasi versicolor

The diagnosis comes directly from the dermatologist and is a clinical diagnosis based on the observation of the alterations that are present on the patient’s skin.

In case of uncertainties and doubts, in order not to get confused with other similar diseases, the dermatologist performs the examination called the Wood’s lamp.

This is an examination that is not considered invasive and that takes place with the control of the dermis under an ultraviolet light which helps to highlight certain characteristics that are usually not noticed with other diagnostic tools such as the normal magnifying glass.

The spots of pityriasis versicolor are highlighted with a yellow-green fluorescence.

On the other hand, if other colors are found, it can be traced back to other types of diseases such as, for example, vitiligo, pityriasis alba or other fungal infections.

How to treat pityriasis versicolor?

Pityriasis versicolor cure: what to do? The suggested therapy is daily cleaning with acid pH soap and with the use of antifungal drugs.

The general practitioner or dermatologist is the one who usually prescribes the therapy for mycosis versicolor.

However, the therapy does not give the certainty of a complete recovery. In fact, the treatment does not give a complete reproduction of the pigmentation, which in the meantime has been blocked by the infection.

For more information, find the contacts of our Dermatological Center in Milan in the appropriate section of the site.

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