Health Information

Tinea Versicolor in Children

What is tinea versicolor?

Tinea versicolor, also called pityriasis versicolor, is a common fungal skin infection caused by yeast on the skin. It is characterized by lighter or darker patches on the skin. Patches are most often found on the chest or back and prevent the skin from tanning evenly. It occurs mostly in adolescence and early adulthood due to oily skin, but can occur at any time.

What are the symptoms of tinea versicolor?

Usually, the only symptom of tinea versicolor is white, pink, or light brown patches. The patches may scale slightly, but rarely itch or hurt. Other common characteristics of the rash include:

  • Infection only on the top layers of the skin

  • The rash usually occurs on the trunk

  • The rash does not usually occur on the face

  • Patches worsen in the heat, humidity, or if your child is on steroid therapy or has a weakened immune system

  • Patches are most noticeable in the summer

The symptoms of tinea versicolor may resemble other skin conditions. Always consult your child's doctor for diagnosis.

How is tinea versicolor diagnosed?

Tinea versicolor is usually diagnosed based on a medical history and physical examination of your child. The patches seen with this condition are unique, and usually allow the diagnosis to be made on physical examination. In addition, your child's doctor may use an ultraviolet light, called a Woods Lamp, to see the patches more clearly. Also, your child's doctor may do skin scrapings of the lesions to help confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment for tinea versicolor

Treatment usually includes the use of an antifungal or dandruff shampoo on the skin as prescribed by your child's doctor. Tinea versicolor usually recurs, requiring additional treatments. Your child's doctor may also prescribe topical creams or oral antifungal medications.

It is also important to know that improvement in the skin may be only temporary, and a recurrence of the condition is possible. Your child's doctor may also recommend using the shampoo monthly to help prevent recurrences. The treatment will not bring the normal color back to the skin immediately. This will occur naturally and may take several months.