June 22, 2010

Causes, Symptoms, Treatment & Remedies for White Spots on Skin

Posted in Category : Common Ailments

Tinea Versicolor, also known as Pityriasis Versicolor, can be described as a common, long-term fungal infection that occurs on the skin. This infection has an adverse effect on the pigmentation process and leads to the appearance of small, flat and white itchy spots on skin. The white spots generally crop up on the skin around the shoulders, upper arm, neck, chest, back and the trunk. In some cases, the patches on the skin may be darker in color than the surrounding area. For many, the skin fungus white spots are nothing more than a source of embarrassment. However, these spots could lead to a lot of itching, flaking and overall discomfort.

Anyone can suffer from tinea versicolor, but it is a lot more common in adolescents and young adult males. Most people are affected by this condition in the summers. Warm and humid climates also cause the infection to recur even after it is treated successfully.

Tinea versicolor is not a major cause for concern, but it is best to have it checked and treated by a doctor immediately. It is possible to get this infection treated, with the help of certain antifungal creams, lotions, shampoos and ointments. However, your skin color may remain uneven for several weeks even after the infection has been treated.


Tinea versicolor is a result of the Pityrosporum Ovale fungus, a type of yeast usually found on healthy human skin. However, there are some factors that could lead to an overgrowth of this yeast, consequently resulting in an infection. This fungal infection is more likely to occur in those parts where the hair follicles open on the surface of the skin. Some of the most common causes of a tinea versicolor infection include –

  • Excessive sweating
  • Health problems or disorders that weaken the immune system
  • Hormonal changes or imbalance
  • Production of excessive amounts of oil on the skin
  • Weather conditions that are very humid and hot

Excessive exposure may not necessarily lead to tinea versicolor, though it can make the white spots on the skin caused by fungus more apparent.


The tinea versicolor infection becomes evident almost immediately, because a thin layer of fungus can be clearly seen on the upper layer of the skin. However, you may also experience a few of the other signs and symptoms of tinea versicolor, which includes:

  • The appearance of tiny, scaly patches on the skin, which keep growing at a slow pace
  • Discoloration of the skin in a few areas
  • Itchiness, which can range from mild to severe
  • Patches on the skin, which stand out in bright sunlight

The severity of the symptoms may vary from one person to the other, depending upon the cause of the infection. This discoloration tends to become more noticeable in those who have darker skin, even if the infection is not as severe in their case.

Most of the patches that are caused by tinea versicolor are white in color. However, at times, these spots could be of different colors, like dark brown, tan or pink.

Make it a point to set up an appointment with a dermatologist or your family doctor as soon as you notice any of these symptoms. In fact, it is important to get any changes in the color of the skin checked by a professional, without any delay. Most dermatologists can diagnose tinea versicolor, just by looking at the skin. In case of any doubt, the doctor may take a few scrapings from the affected areas of the skin and check them under a microscope.


The treatment of tinea versicolor generally includes over-the-counter or prescription antifungal medication. Some of these medicines are topical while others should be taken internally. The treatment of tinea versicolor usually includes:

  • Ciclopirox lotion, cream or gel
  • Fluconazole tablets
  • Itraconazole capsules and pills
  • Ketoconazole tablets, creams, gels, foams or shampoos
  • Selenium sulfide lotion

Make sure to take these medicines in the right dosage, as prescribed by the doctor. To keep the infection from recurring, your doctor may advise you to continue taking the tablets once or twice each month.

Home Remedies

There are a few home and natural remedies that alleviate the uncomfortable symptoms of tinea versicolor. These remedies include –

  • Garlic: Chew on a few cloves of fresh garlic a couple of times a day. The antibacterial and antifungal properties present in this remedy help your body fight off the fungal infection.
  • Yogurt: Consume a bowl of plain and unflavored yogurt, once or twice each day. Yogurt contains fermented lactic acid, which controls the overgrowth of yeast on the skin. Alternately, you could also apply some yogurt on the affected part of your skin and leave it on for a few minutes, before rinsing it off.
  • Powder: Apply some baby powder on the skin at regular intervals during the day. This soaks up the excessive sweat and oil on the skin, which reduces the risks of fungal infections. Many people refer using baking powder instead of talcum powder.

These home remedies are quite safe if used correctly, but it is best to check with a doctor before trying any of them.

Your diet also plays a very important role in the treatment of tinea versicolor. Speak with your doctor about the foods that you should consume and avoid while undergoing treatment for this condition.


  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002436/
  2. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/tinea-versicolor/DS00635