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Pityriasis versicolor

Pityriasis versicolor is a harmless fungal infection that causes patches of discoloured skin.

The main symptom of pityriasis versicolor is patches of skin that may be lighter or darker than your normal skin.

Pityriasis versicolor can be treated with antifungal shampoos, creams and tablets.

Pityriasis versicolor is caused by a yeast (fungus) that lives on most people's skin. It's not caused by poor hygiene and cannot spread to others.

Read more on the NHS website.

The main symptom of pityriasis versicolor is patches of skin that may be lighter or darker than your normal skin.

Symptoms of pityriasis versicolor

Patches of skin may be darker or lighter than your normal skin colour, or may be red, brown or pink. They tend to develop gradually and may join up to form larger patches over time.

Dark skin with smaller lighter patches caused by pityriasis versicolor.

The areas most often affected by pityriasis versicolor include the back, chest, upper arms, neck and tummy.

Although it may look unpleasant and the patches are sometimes itchy, pityriasis versicolor is harmless.

You may still want to see a GP, as it usually only improves with treatment. They can normally diagnose pityriasis versicolor by examining your skin.

Read more on the NHS website.

Pityriasis versicolor can be treated with antifungal shampoos, creams and tablets.

Medical treatments

Pityriasis versicolor can be treated with antifungal medicines. These are available as shampoos, creams and tablets.

Antifungal shampoos

Antifungal shampoos (such as ketoconazole or selenium sulphide shampoo) are often the first treatment recommended for pityriasis versicolor.

These are available to buy over the counter from pharmacies, or a GP can prescribe them.

In most cases, these shampoos need to be made into a lather and left on the affected areas of skin for 5 to 10 minutes before being rinsed off. This usually needs to be repeated every day for 5 to 7 days.

You may experience some skin dryness or irritation when using these shampoos, particularly selenium sulphide.

It may be helpful to dilute the shampoo with water before applying it. Some people also find the odour of selenium sulphide shampoo unpleasant.

Antifungal creams

If only small areas of skin are affected, a GP may prescribe an antifungal cream.

These creams usually need to be applied to the affected area of skin once or twice a day for several weeks.

Some people experience a burning sensation when they use these antifungal creams, but this is not common.

Antifungal tablets

If a large area of skin is affected or other treatments have not helped, you may be prescribed antifungal tablets.

These usually need to be taken once a day for 1 to 4 weeks.

Side effects of these tablets are uncommon, although some people experience problems such as rashes, feeling sick and tummy (abdominal) pain while taking them.

Read more on the NHS website.

Pityriasis versicolor is caused by a yeast (fungus) that lives on most people's skin. It's not caused by poor hygiene and cannot spread to others.

Read more on the NHS website.