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Tinea Versicolor: Care Instructions

Your Care Instructions

Tinea versicolor is a skin infection caused by a yeast (fungus). It causes many small spots, usually on the chest and back. The spotted skin can be flaky or scaly. The spots do not tan in the sun, so they are lighter than the skin around them. Some spots may be darker than the skin around them.

The yeast that causes tinea versicolor normally lives on your skin. But it becomes a problem only when warmth and humidity allow the yeast to grow rapidly and increase in number. Some people are more likely to get tinea versicolor. It does not spread from person to person. Tinea versicolor usually gets better as you age.

You can treat tinea versicolor with cream or ointment that kills the yeast. You may need pills to kill the fungus if the spots cover a lot of your body. Although treatment kills the yeast quickly, your skin may not return to normal for months after treatment. You can get this condition again after treatment.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Follow the directions for use of creams, shampoos, or solutions. You will probably need to use them for 1 to 2 weeks. If your skin gets irritated, stop using the product, and call your doctor or nurse call line.
  • To prevent tinea versicolor, use a cream, shampoo, or solution one time a month. Your doctor may prescribe pills to prevent the spots from returning.
  • Dry off well after bathing. Keep your skin clean and dry.
  • Always wear sunscreen on exposed skin. Make sure to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that has a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. Use it every day, even when it is cloudy.
  • If you keep getting tinea versicolor, wash your clothes in very hot water to kill the yeast.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have signs of infection such as:
    • Pain, warmth, or swelling in your skin.
    • Red streaks near a wound in your skin.
    • Pus coming from a wound in your skin.
    • A fever.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • Your skin condition does not improve in 2 weeks.
  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.