Tinea versicolor is a fungal infection of the skin. The fungus that causes the condition feeds on lipids that are found in the oils secreted by the skin. An infection often results in patches of skin that are different in color from the surrounding skin. These patches can either be lighter or darker than the surrounding skin.
Tinea versicolor is not harmful and has only a few other mild symptoms, like occasional itching. The itching is usually not severe and often happens after sweating or spending time in hot temperatures. However, the changes in skin color are often embarrassing to the people who have an infection and leads many people to treat it. The fungus often grows in highly conspicuous areas like the face and the upper part of the body. This is because these areas have the highest content of sebum. Sebum is a substance in the oils of the skin that has a lot of lipids.
The fungus that causes tinea versicolor is normally present on the skin, but does not usually cause problems. It is not clear exactly what causes people to develop an infection, but there are a few known risk factors. Young people and people who live in hot climates are the most likely to develop tinea versicolor.
Young people are probably more likely to develop the condition because of the higher hormonal activity that happens in their bodies that causes more production of sebum. The same hormonal activity that causes acne during this time can also lead to tinea versicolor. More sebum on the skin means more lipids for the fungus to eat. People who also have elevated hormonal activity are pregnant women and women in menopause.
Hot climates also seem to make people more susceptible to tinea versicolor. This probably has to do with the skin continuously being moist from sweat. Like most fungus, the fungus that causes tinea versicolor thrives best in moisture.
Tinea Versicolor Treatment
Although not much is understood about the condition and why it occurs, it is easy and usually inexpensive to treat. Treatment is usually done at home. Tinea versicolor treatment with over the counter medicated dandruff shampoos is the most common method of curing it. The same fungus that causes dandruff causes tinea versicolor.
Tinea versicolor home treatment with common household products like apple cider vinegar is also a common method of treatment. Essential oils like mint and tea tree oils are common natural methods of treating an infection. This often takes more time than using dandruff shampoos and other products, but for people who have sensitive skin or who do not want to use these products, natural treatment of tinea versicolor is possible. Natural methods are usually most effective when more than one treatment is used. Essential oils and acids like apple cider vinegar usually need to be diluted because when used at full strength, they can harm the skin. Using more than one type of natural treatment at a time avoids irritation and is more effective against the fungus.