Pityriasis versicolor: treatment, symptoms, what is it and causes


What is Pityriasis versicolor?

Pityriasis, which can also be called white cloth, beach ringworm and tinea versicolor, is a common ringworm of the skin. The disease is a fungal infection that causes spots on the skin.

These spots usually vary in color, including white, pink, orange or brown on the skin. That is why it is called versicolor, as there are several shades of color. During the summer the infection gets worse and during the winter it disappears.

As the problem arises, in most cases, during the heat, about 40% of the population in tropical countries and temperate areas suffer from the problem. The disease can affect anyone, regardless of gender and race, but young adults are most affected, as they sweat frequently and have oily skin.

The causes of Pityriasis versicolor

Pityriasis is caused by the fungus of the genus Malassezia and presents itself in two forms: an ovoid and the other peripheral, respectively, Pityrosporum ovale and Pityrosporum orbiculare.

This type of fungus is very common on the skin of humans and is found mainly in the areas where they have more accumulated fat, such as face, neck, trunk, scalp and arms.

Nobody “catches” the disease, because in addition to not being contagious, the cause is already present in the body as a germ of the skin’s natural microbial flora. The fungus only causes problems when it overgrows and proliferates throughout the body.

Risk factors

The growth of the infection can occur due to several factors, such as:

  • Have oily skin;
  • Hormonal changes that can occur through the use of contraceptives;
  • Weak immune system;
  • Hot and humid climatic conditions;
  • Excessive sweating.

What are the symptoms of Pityriasis versicolor?

The main characteristic of the disease is the appearance of spots on the skin. These spots can trigger symptoms or not. If they do appear, they are usually:

  • Most visible after exposure to the sun;
  • Most common in the chest, back, arms and neck;
  • The colors usually vary between white, pink, orange and brown;
  • Itchy skin may occur.

There are several spots that appear and they are usually oval, with a peeling layer. When they appear in children, the most affected place is the face.

Although it can be called beach ringworm, the problem does not arise when frequenting the sand or the sea. It is only called that because of the heat and exposure to the sun, which can occur anywhere other than the beach.

In most cases, patients seek medical advice for aesthetic reasons, since pityriasis does not cause real health problems.

The lesions may disappear, but in most cases, the untreated spots become persistent.

During the summer, the incidence of pityriasis is much higher than in other seasons, due to the humidity and high temperature.


The doctors indicated to treat pityriasis versicolor are:

  • Dermatologist;
  • Urologist;
  • Immunologist;
  • Infectologist;
  • General practitioner.

Going to the appointment now with a report containing the patient’s symptoms, medical history and diet can save you a few minutes.

The doctor’s diagnosis can be made quickly with conversation in the office and clinical observation, but if he is in doubt, a scraping of the site can be done in order to analyze it under a microscope.

Treatment for Pityriasis versicolor

In some cases, the use of medications is necessary during treatment. Antifungals, which can be found in drugstores, can be indicated by pharmacists.

Special shampoos and soaps that contain selenium sulfide and / or ketoconazole in the composition can be recommended. The ideal is to leave the foam on the body for a few minutes, either in contact with the scalp or the skin. If it does not work, consulting a doctor may be a good option for the person suffering from pityriasis.

The specialist doctor will possibly recommend one of these medications to treat pityriasis versicolor:

  • Clotren ;
  • Canesten ;
  • Icaden ;
  • Itraconazole ;
  • Miconazole nitrate ;
  • Fluconazole .

Medicines should never be used without medical advice. The self-medication can bring many health disorders and further worsen the symptoms.


NEVER self-medicate or stop using a medication without first consulting a doctor. Only he will be able to tell which medication, dosage and duration of treatment is the most suitable for his specific case. The information contained on this site is only intended to inform, not in any way intended to replace the guidance of a specialist or serve as a recommendation for any type of treatment. Always follow the instructions on the package insert and, if symptoms persist, seek medical or pharmaceutical advice.

What are the complications? Can pityriasis versicolor be cured?

Pityriasis usually does not cause complications and, in most cases, the use of special shampoos and soaps is enough to improve symptoms.

The disease is curable. About 80 to 90% of affected people have the problem remedied. But it is important to note that, in some cases, the disease takes up to months to disappear. In such cases, scraping the lesion may be necessary.

Sometimes, even after healing, the skin may change color for weeks or even months, depending on the case.


As the recurrence of the problem is very large, antifungal and exfoliating soaps can be a good way to reduce the number of people affected. Not being exposed to the sun can also be a good way to avoid pityriasis versicolor.

Although the disease does not cause many problems, when treated correctly, it is always good to be aware of the skin stains and, whenever there is doubt, the doctor should be consulted!