Fungal Infections

Disease name and synonyms

Pityriasis versicolor (Tinea versicolor)

Fungi responsible (links to these)

Malassezia furfur (Pityrosporum ovale) and other related species

Disease description

Superficial skin infection of the upper trunk, usually without an inflammatory component or scaling. Depigmentation, like rain drops, or excess pigmentation over the chest or upper back is typical, especially after sun exposure.

Frequency and global burden

Common, especially in tropical and subtropical regions where up to 50% of the adult population may be affected. More obvious and perhaps more common in the summer months in temperate climates. Most common between ages of 20 and 40.

Underlying problems and at risk patients

Possibly genetic predisposition as family members not living together are more frequently affected.

Diagnostic testing

Microscopy showing budding yeasts cells from the affected area.


There are several topical treatments available containing sulfide selenium, propylene glycol and azole antifungals. Extensive cases sometimes require oral azole treatment with ketoconazole or itraconazole.

Outlook and prognosis

Rates of recurrence are very high. In some cases prophylactic itraconazole (200mg one day per month x 6 months) has been used with a response of 88% at the end of the study.

A typical example of pityriasis versicolor

Antifungal Treatment for Pityriasis Versicolor (Gupta & Foley, 2015)

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