Saturday, November 13, 2010

Dealing with Tinea Versicolor

It's been a while since I've last blogged, primarily due to a few reasons. One of those was a recent diagnosis of Tinea Versicolor, or TV.

TV is a yeast infection of the skin, characterized by pink and brown blotches that usually appear on the trunk of the body - notably the chest and shoulders. I didn't notice it at first, since it started around late summer, and I thought it was my skin peeling (something that happens to me often after I get a tan).

Unfortunately, it got worse, to the point where I was scared enough to seek out a dermatologist, who confirmed the diagnosis. Where did it come from? Is it chronic? Is it fatal? How do I get rid of it?

If you've ever had to deal with this, you know how confused and worried I felt at that moment. Once the dermatologist told me I had nothing to worry about, my feelings moved from fear to humiliation and disgust. I was covered in fungus after all - not something to brag about.

For those unaware, TV is not contagious. It's not fatal either. In fact, it's really only a cosmetic concern. You may be surprised to find that it's present on nearly every living human being! Most of us never see it appear, because the conditions aren't optimal for its overgrowth. However, for about 5% of the population, it appears like a bad tan - and when it does, it can be embarrassing and challenging to deal with.

So how does it occur? Typically, it happens in hot or humid conditions when you are more prone to sweating. If your skin is rich in sebum or is oily, then you have an elevated risk. It can also be an issue for people with comprised immune systems (diabetes, HIV). Finally, if you are using corticosteroids for any reason, it can also rear its ugly head. Under these situations, the yeast produces a skin lightening acid as it grows, and you end up with spots absent of pigmentation. Believe it or not, it can also cause infection of your hair follicles, and appear as red bumps or pustules on your scalp, sometimes diagnosed as seborrheic dermatitis or folliculitis.

Treatment can be handled a few ways. Your dermatologist can prescribe oral antifungal medication such as Diflucan (fluconazole) or Nizoral (ketoconazole). This will likely involve taking 150 - 400mg of the drug over a 3-4 week period. Oral medications are often prescribed in extreme cases (like mine), and can result in some serious, but rare, complications. It also won't prevent recurrence, which is all but a given with TV. I wasn't thrilled with the idea of taking the pills because of the risk, so I searched out some other treatment options.

Another option is to use antifungal creams, such as Lamisil (terbinafine). These will work well, but if you have to rub the cream all over your body twice a day for 2 weeks, it's not particularly easy or neat.

The last option - and the one I am using - is dandruff shampoo. This involves washing your head and body with the shampoo and leaving it on your skin for about 5 minutes before washing it off. Medical tests have proven that pyrithione zinc will kill the yeast, ultimately alleviating the condition. Nizoral 2% (prescription strength) is a great option, but many over the counter options exist as well. Any shampoo with ketoconazole (1% or 2%), selenium sulfide, or pyrithione zinc can be used once a day for 1-2 weeks (depending on strength of the solution).

EMERGE For Men Follicle Cleansing Shampoo can help treat conditions such as these. With Zinc PCA, it can help clean the skin and scalp by removing the sebum the yeast thrives on.

Keep in mind that once the yeast has been killed, you will still have spots. It takes some time for the pigmentation to return. It is recommended that after the 1-2 week treatment with the shampoo that you repeat the process every month for a week or so to hinder the re-occurrence.

For anyone having to deal with this - I wish you best of luck and keep fighting the good fight!

by RJ Dee


  1. will your hair grow back iam having bold spots and it looks realy bad i dont know what to do about it ??

  2. iam dealing with hair lost in diff spots iam going bold from this fungus willl it grow back or how do i keep it from falling out i need help i tryed some things from the net but it never works iam only 23 and i want my hair lol i dont know what to do its so depressing :( anyone know how i can get my hair grow back?

  3. thank you so very much ...this article has helped a lot and i feel really easy about what i am suffering from ....whoa !!! a long way to go !!!