• Pityriasis Versicolor

Summer Pigmentation Spots: It Could Be Pityriasis Versicolor!

Do you suffer during the summer months from varying dark or light patches on your neck, chest and/or back? And do they resemble pigmentation spots which disappear in the winter? Then you might have the condition Pityriasis Versicolor… Pityriasis Versicolor is a very common and harmless skin condition caused by a yeast. It remains unclear as to which yeast causes the condition. M.furfur has always been thought of as the cause of Pityriasis Versicolor, but in recent studies the yeast M. Globosa has also been associated with this condition. I have previously written a blog about Pityrosporum Folliculitis. A yeast is also the cause of this skin problem.

It may sound a bit strange having yeast growing your skin, but that in itself isn’t the problem. Everyone has yeast (or, in fact, fungus) on their skin. This isn’t normally noticeable but in some people the uppermost skin layer is affected . This then disrupts the pigment cells, resulting in patches.
Pityriasis Versicolor arises more often in oily skin and in warm climates. So in the Netherlands you will mainly see it in the summer. In tropical regions, as much as 50% of people visiting a Dermatologist, have Pityriasis Versicolor.

How can you recognise Pityriasis Versicolour?
Pityriasis Versicolor is very easy to recognise: patches (darker on white skin, lighter on dark skin) on the neck, chest and the back, but also often on the face, the arms and the legs. The patches themselves can often be scaly (you may only be able to see this when your skin is stretched). This can make the patches itch.

The solution is easy..
Have a look in your bathroom cabinet because you may already have the solution there.
An anti-dandruff shampoo with selenium sulphide (such as Selsun) is effective for skin with lots of patches. Leave it to absorb in overnight and wash it off the next morning.
You can use an anti-fungal cream (ketoconazol cream or ciclopirox cream) on some patches. If you or your children have ever had athletes foot, then you will no doubt already have the cream. Apply it for a minimum of two weeks.
If the spots keep coming back then a course of anti-fungal tablets may be the answer. The only downside is that these pills have several side effects and so are only available by Doctor’s prescription.
Those who want to be patch free…
Need to have patience. Once treated the scaliness usually disappears after a few days but the patches often remain visible for longer, even though the skin is ‘clear’ of the yeast.
The frustrating thing about Pityriasis Versicolor is that if you are prone to it then it is likely to return. Once the patches have cleared up make sure you protect yourself properly in the sun (which is, of course, always necessary), don’t apply oily and barrier ointments or creams onto your skin (this encourages the yeast to grow) and always dry your skin thoroughly after showering, bathing etc.

Oh and before you go throwing all your sheets, duvet covers and pillowcases in the bin: Pityriasis Versicolor is not contagious!

Regards Jetske

(Research Physician Cosmetic Dermatology)

You can also read the blogs:
Melasma: Vitamin C Versus Hydroquinone‘,
Ageing Skin Due to Pigmentation
An Exfoliant as Part of Your Step By Step Plan‘,
Ageing Behind Glass‘ and the blog
A Good Sun Protection Cream?‘.