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Skin Fungus and White Spots

Skin Fungus and White Spots

The condition of skin fungus and white spots is called tinea versicolor. This article provides some information about this condition, its symptoms, causes, and treatment.
Pragya T
Last Updated: Apr 22, 2018
Tinea versicolor, a fungal infection can interfere with the normal pigmentation of the skin and create small spots which give a patchy appearance to the skin. This skin infection is quite common in hot and humid areas. Teens and young adults seem to be more prone to this infection. The condition can be prevented by following some measures. Also, if one has this skin condition then it is important to consult a dermatologist.


Tinea versicolor is a fungal infection which thrives around the hair follicles region. It can be seen where the hair follicles open on the skin surface. If a little amount of fungus is on the skin, it is not a severe condition and can go unnoticed. However, when the fungus spreads more, the condition tinea versicolor occurs. The conditions which trigger this fungal infection are:
  • Greasy skin: If one has oily skin type, then it is possible that he/she might be prone to such fungal infections. Many teens and young adults tend to have oily skin, hence they are prone to fungal and bacterial infections.
  • Excessive sweating: Excessive sweating is another common cause which can cause this skin fungus. Hence, people who workout or are into sports can get this skin infection easily.
  • Hot and/or humid weather: Hot and humid climate are favorable conditions for this fungus. Hence, this infection is commonly seen in the areas which are hot and humid.
  • Imbalance of Hormones: Due to the imbalance of hormones, or sudden changes of hormones in the body, many people experience this skin condition.
  • Immunosuppression: This means lowering of the immune system response. It can be due to certain drugs, or can be a side effect of a treatment like chemotherapy.

This skin condition is more noticeable on dark skin but can affect anyone, regardless of the skin color. Here are the various symptoms of tinea versicolor, that will help one spot this skin condition.
  • Spots: The most noticeable symptom of this infection is spots which can be 1/4 to 1 inch, these spots can be small and then, gradually grows big. They can be pink, tan, or dark brown in appearance. Sometimes, these spots can have sharp borders too. The spots after sun exposure become more noticeable.
  • Infection of the Skin: Common areas where this infection can be seen are the body areas where sweating occurs the most. Such areas are neck, back, underarms, and chest.
  • Scaling: Sometimes, one can see fine scaling of the skin too. The scaling of the skin is very fine and of ash-like coloration.
  • Itching: A person experiences mild itching due to this infection. The itching is like pin-prick sensation.

Treatment of this condition depends according to the severity and location of the skin infection, the climate, and the preference of the affected people. Here are the different treatment methods which are used to treat the fungus that causes white spots on the skin.

If one has a mild case, then, he/she can use an over-the-counter antifungal skin cream or shampoo. However, if one has a severe or recurring case of this skin infection, then seek medical help. Topical shampoos, soaps, creams, or lotions which contain selenium sulfide, ketoconazole, or pyrithione zinc are given to the affected person. If an affected person is using soap/shampoo, then he/she is advised to keep the shampoo/soap for a few minutes and then wash the skin with water. Lotions or creams are mostly kept on the infected skin area overnight. The doctor might also prescribe oral medication like ketoconazole. Medicated cleansers are also advised to use once or twice in a month to prevent this skin fungus from recurring. Medicated cleansers should be, especially, used during hot and humid months of the year. The outcome with the treatment is effective, as the fungus is easy to kill. However, for the skin to regain its normal color it takes weeks or months.


One should take some preventive measures to avoid recurrence or spreading of this skin infection. Wear natural fabric like cotton and avoid wearing too tight clothes. Such clothes will allow good ventilation and prevent the fungal infection. To avoid making the skin greasy, one should stay away from oil-based or oily skin products. The health care provider might prescribe a topical cream or oral medicine, that one would need to use once or twice a month to avoid recurrence.

There are certain skin conditions which mimic the tinea versicolor condition. However, they are very different kind of skin disorders. The condition called pityriasis alba, which is a mild form of eczema, develops mild, patchy lightening of the face, shoulders, and torso. Another condition which results in the permanent loss of pigment is vitiligo disease. This condition mostly affects the skin around the eyes and lips, and knuckles and joints. The spots look porcelain white, but unlike tinea versicolor these spots are permanent.

Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.