Are you tired of people calling you “spot”? Well then maybe you have Tinea versicolor. It’s one of the most common rashes caused by fungal infections, and it’s easily recognized by it’s characteristic appearance of spots on the upper back and chest that look like swiss cheese. It’s very easy to cure but so hard to prevent from recurring, unless you know how to treat one special part of your body that doesn’t even have the rash.
Tinea versicolor, also called Pityriasis versicolor, may sound like an exotic disease but it’s caused by a very common yeast called Malassezia globosa… I know, it was right on the tip of your tongue!... And it occurs most commonly in young adults and adolescents in warm, humid weather. The rash is usually confined to the upper body: chest, back, shoulders, and upper arms. The spots tend to be smaller than a dime or a centimeter, and are hyperpigmented in lighter skinned people… and lighter than your skin color in people with dark skin tones. Usually there are no symptoms, not even itching… just spots! If you look real close you may even see fine flaking at the edges of the spots.
Because the yeast only lives in the most superficial layers of dead skin cells, it’s easily treated with shampoo containing yeast fighting chemicals, like over the counter selenium sulfide and prescription ketoconizole. While treating with a shampoo is easy and efficient, because you just spread the lather everywhere from your neck to your waste, you need to be patient and leave the lather on for five to ten minutes every day for at least a week. That kills the fungus and thereby prevents spreading and new spots, but it may take months for the spots to disappear and for your skin color to return to normal.
So it’s easy to treat. Right? But annoyingly, it so easily comes back the next time you are in hot humid weather, especially if you sweat a lot. We think that most people carry the yeast or its spores on the hair of their scalp and get re-infected from their own hair. So if you want your Tinea versicolor to stay away, makes sure you treat your scalp hair the same way I described for your body and let your friends call somebody else, “Spot.”