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Tinea Versicolor Topics

Tinea Versicolor - Topic Overview

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How is it treated? continued...

Products that you put on your skin (topical treatments) are the most common treatment for tinea versicolor.

  • These may include antifungal shampoos, creams, and foams. Shampoos can be used on the body as well as the head and may be easier to use than creams or foams.
  • Depending on how strong the medicine is, you may or may not need a prescription for these products. For example, shampoos used to treat tinea versicolor usually contain selenium sulfide. They are available in 2.5% strength with a prescription and in 1% strength without a prescription (for example, Selsun Blue, Head and Shoulders).
  • You may need to use the product once or twice each day for 1 to 2 weeks or longer.

If the infection is severe, returns often, or does not get better with skin care, your doctor may prescribe antifungal pills. Pills tend to be easier for people to use than the products that you put on your skin. They may also work better at curing the rash. But they have side effects and can affect your heart and liver, so you may need blood tests while you're taking them. People with liver problems, heart problems, or other health problems may not be able to take the pills.

Treatment kills the fungi quickly. But it can take months for the spots to disappear and for your skin color to return to normal. Also, the infection tends to come back after treatment. It may come and go over the years. In general, it tends to get better as you get older.

Can tinea versicolor be prevented?

If you have frequent problems with tinea versicolor, there are a couple of things you can do so that it is less likely to come back.

  • Use antifungal skin creams, shampoos, or solutions at least once a month. Ask your doctor if you should use them more often.
  • Talk to your doctor about taking antifungal pills once a month. Most people don't need to do this, but it can help in some cases.

Some doctors believe that fungi that remain in clothing may cause the infection to return. Normal washing and cleaning is usually effective in removing the fungus from clothes. But for persistent tinea versicolor, you may need to dry-clean your clothes or wash them in the hottest possible water.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 03, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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