Tinea Versicolor: Care Instructions

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Tinea versicolor is a skin infection. It causes many small spots, usually on the parts of the upper body like the chest and neck. The spots may form patches that have fine scales. The spots and patches may be lighter or darker than the skin around them.

The fungus that causes tinea versicolor normally lives on your skin. But sometimes it can cause a rash. This happens more often where it's hot and humid. Some people, especially teens and young adults, are more likely to get tinea versicolor. It usually gets better as you get older. Tinea versicolor doesn't spread from person to person.

You can treat tinea versicolor with cream, ointment, or shampoo. You may need pills if the spots cover a lot of your body. Although treatment kills the fungus quickly, your skin may not return to its normal color 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 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.
  • Dry off well after bathing. Keep your skin dry.
  • If the rash keeps coming back, you may want to use a cream, shampoo, or solution one time a month. Your doctor may prescribe pills to prevent the spots from returning.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor 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 if:

  • Your rash gets worse.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.