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Ever look in the mirror and discover that your back and chest have become dotted with multiple scaling, discolored patches? No, the spots are not leprosy but are in all likelihood tinea versicolor. Tinea versicolor ranks among the most trivial of all the disorders. Tinea versicolor is most common in teenagers and young adults and is rare in children and senior citizens. Relatively few persons with tinea versicolor complain of itching; for the majority, the only complaint is a cosmetic one. Since the involved skin does not tan after sun exposure, the infection is most apparent in the summer months.
This noncontagious condition is caused by a ubiquitous yeast-like organism that on occasion penetrates the outermost layer of skin, resulting in either light or dark flat areas characterized by fine scale.
Tinea versicolor may be eradicated with a variety of different compounds including daily applications of selenium sulfide (Excel, Selsun lotion) or a wide range of antifungal creams. Extensive cases may be treated with oral antifungal pills (Nizoral, Sporanox). Even with adequate treatment the discoloration may take months to normalize. Tinea versicolor infection is prone to reoccurrence.