Reviewed by Physician Chu I Ta and Dr Jessica Gunawan on February 17, 2023
Tips For Caring For Your Skin If You Have Tinea Versicolor
Published | 6 min read
Tinea versicolor is a fungal skin infection that may occur if you spend time in a moist, humid environment. It can look a lot like eczema or psoriasis, making it hard to identify. Here's how to tell if you have it and treatment options that work.
It’s most common if you spend a lot of time in a moist and humid environment. The condition can lead to a ringworm type of infection due to an overgrowth of yeast on the skin. After the initial rash appears on your skin, it can become dry and crusty.
In this guide, we’ll explain the difference between tinea versicolor and other types of skin rashes. We’ll also provide natural remedies to help treat the condition at home.
What Is Tinea Versicolor?
Tinea versicolor is a common fungal infection that causes your skin to change colors. It’ll lead to a crusted rash on body parts that frequently produce sweat.
- The rash shows up as well-defined, brown, white, or pink patches on the skin. It’s caused by an overgrowth of yeast that’s naturally found on the skin.
- Most infections occur on the upper chest, shoulders, and back. It’s not contagious, but it may cause skin itching or discomfort.
- The primary risk factors of tinea versicolor are warm, moist, or oily environments. It can cause an overgrowth of Malassezia spp yeast on the skin’s surface.
A hormonal imbalance, diabetes, medications like corticosteroids , and a weakened immune system can also make a person vulnerable to the condition’s onset.
Is Your Rash Tinea Versicolor Or Something Else?
To the untrained eye, tinea versicolor can be mistaken for other skin conditions, including:
- Nummular eczema
Here’s how to tell the difference between each skin condition.
Tinea versicolor is a fungal infection while psoriasis is an autoimmune condition. The latter is incurable, but the former typically resolves a few days after treatment.
With tinea versicolor, a clear patch of skin is visible in the middle of a ringworm rash spot, but psoriatic skin lacks this feature.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) believes that psoriasis stems from excess Heat, which can manifest as blood, Dryness, or Stasis. It’s characterized by skin lesions of varying sizes, erythema — a type of skin rash caused by inflamed blood capillaries — and silvery white scales with distinct borders.
Like psoriasis, vitiligo is an autoimmune skin disease. It destroys the cells (melanocytes) that produce melanin, the pigment that gives a person’s skin color.
The skin disorder and its subtypes will first appear as a white spot. It progresses to a loss of color and can whiten or grey hair in the affected area.
TCM classifies the reasons behind vitiligo as negative emotional stress, prolonged exposure to Wind (an exogenous pathogenic factor), and Kidney and
“A high-paced lifestyle and stressful work environment provoke Liver Blood and Qi Stagnation, impairing the circulation of both substances in the body. It’ll also happen if Wind penetrates the skin, blocking and stagnating the meridians. A Deficiency of Kidney and Liver Yin will result in malnourished blood in the skin, triggering an onset of vitiligo.”
TCM Senior Physician Chu I Ta
Skin redness and wheals (swollen flesh marks) are the two notable signs of urticaria. These will usually subside within a 24-hour period.
Tinea versicolor often leaves dry, scaly patches while urticaria skin usually appears normal until there’s a reaction and the skin forms small hives.
According to TCM, urticaria can happen if there are Deficiencies in the vital viscera. These include Blood Stasis, poor blood circulation, or a lack of blood, qi and yin.
Pathogenic factors like Cold, Heat, Wind, Dryness and Dampness may also contribute to the onset of urticaria.
Tinea versicolor is a contagious condition, but nummular eczema isn’t. Nummular eczema can also be seen as multiple skin patches. These can happen within weeks after experiencing a traumatic injury, burns, or bites.
The treatment regimen for the condition may take up to a year, though it can recur if it doesn’t heal completely. In extreme situations, it can scar or darken the affected skin area.
TCM differentiates the occurrence of eczema into three types:
- Internal accumulation of Damp-Heat
- Blood Deficiency and excessive Wind
- Spleen Deficiency and excessive Dampness
How Is It Diagnosed?
A clinical specialist will perform skin tests to diagnose tinea versicolor. One of these involves scraping off loose skin cells and examining them under a microscope. The presence of yeast is an indicator of the condition.
Alternatively, the skin can also be examined with a Wood’s lamp. The device uses ultraviolet rays to illuminate different areas of the skin. If the skin shows up a yellowish-green shade, it’s another clear sign of tinea versicolor.
Tinea Versicolor Treatment Options
There are several ways to treat tinea versicolor:
You can purchase antifungal creams, lotions, or shampoos from a pharmacy without a prescription. Yes, you read that right; antifungal shampoos. Examples of these are:
- Zinc pyrithione shampoo
- Selenium-based dandruff shampoo
The primary mode of action of these remedies is to kill or stop fungus growth. Doing so will ensure complete recovery and lower the risk of re-infection.
A healthcare provider may also prescribe topical options like ketoconazole or ciclopirox, or oral medications like fluconazole and itraconazole for severe symptoms.
The alternative approach to treating tinea versicolor focuses on expelling toxins and clearing Heat and Dampness. To achieve these objectives, a licensed TCM practitioner will propose herbal formulas like Long Dan Xie Gan
Cleansing the skin’s surface with herbal pastes helps with soothing and treating the condition. Individual herbal ingredients to be considered
- Chrysanthemum (Ju Hua)
- Honeysuckle flower (Jin Yin Hua)
- Purslane (Ma Chi Xian)
- Belvedere fruit (Di Fu Zi)
- Falsestarwort root (Tai Zi Shen)
- Pittany root-bark (Bai Xian Pi)
- Stemona root (Bai Bu)
- Common Cnidium fruit (She Chuang Zi)
Topical and oral solutions are key to providing holistic treatment of tinea versicolor. Applying a
Tinea Versicolor Prevention Tips
Preventive measures will help avoid repeat infections. Keep away from hot and humid environments and maintain the hygiene of your hair, skin, and fingernails.
Wear loose-fitting or cotton clothing to reduce sweating. If you’re considering alternative remedies, do seek consultation with a licensed practitioner. It’ll help ensure the safety of the formulas or ingredients used for your body’s constitution.
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