Tinea Versicolor

Overview of Tinea Versicolor

Tinea versicolor is a common condition caused by yeast living on normal skin of all people. In some people, for unknown reasons, the yeast grows more actively and causes a scaling rash that may or may not be itchy. It is most common in adolescents and young adults. It is not contagious. 

Signs & Symptoms

  • Persistent patches of discolored skin
  • May be white, pink, red, tan or brown. Individuals develop one color
  • Marks are usually flat, without texture
  • The skin may flake at the edges of the spots
  • Most common sites: back, neck, upper chest, shoulders, armpits and upper arms. Associated with hot, humid climates
  • Associated with increased sweating
  • Itching may occur in some individuals but often there is no itching 


People with a history of tinea versicolor should attempt to avoid excessive heat or sweating. The rash continues to return in 40 to 60% of people but tends to diminish with advancing age. Recurrent episodes can be prevented by skin washing the skin every 2 weeks with anti-dandruff shampoo. 


Topical antifungal agents purchased over the counter (OTC) are effective. Look for OTC products that contain the medications: clotrimazole and miconazole. Effective shampoos are ones that contain selenium sulfide. Extensive rashes may require prescription topical or oral antifungal medications. Exposure to the sun will help the skin return to normal uniform color after treatment. 

How We Can Help

  • If you would like to be seen by our medical staff, please contact our Appointment Desk to schedule an appointment.
  • Also, our Advice Nurse service is available at no charge for all UC Davis students to discuss health concerns and the need for medical care.