Springdale Mason Pediatrics

Tinea Versicolor


  • Skin infection of teens and adults caused by a fungus
  • Tinea versicolor means "ringworm of many colors"

Call or Return If

  • Rash is not improved after 2 weeks on treatment
  • You think your child needs to be seen
  • Your child becomes worse

About This Topic


  • Numerous spots and patches appear on the neck, upper back, and shoulders.
  • The spots are covered by a fine scale.
  • The spots vary in size.
  • In summer, the spots are light and don't tan like the normal skin.
  • In winter as normal skin tone fades, the spots look darker than normal skin. The spots often look pink or brown.
  • Itching is uncommon. It's mainly a cosmetic problem.


  • A fungus called Pityrosporum ovale

After Care Advice

  • Tinea versicolor is mainly a cosmetic problem.
  • It is harmless and can't spread to others.
  • It can be cleared up but it often comes back.
  • Here is some care advice that should help.
Selsun Shampoo:
  • Selsun is a nonprescription medicated shampoo for dandruff. It also helps this condition. Also called Selsun Blue shampoo.
  • Selsun works because it contains selenium sulfide 1%.
  • Apply this shampoo to the affected skin areas. Apply it 2 or 3 inches around the spots. Rub it in and let it dry. Be careful to keep it away from the eyes and genitals. Reason: It's irritating to these tissues. After 30 minutes, rinse it off with a shower.
  • Do this once a day for 7 days.
Prevention of Recurrent Tinea Versicolor:
  • Tinea versicolor tends to recur.
  • Prevent this by applying Selsun shampoo on the areas that were affected before.
  • Do this once a month for 3 months.
  • Leave it on for 8-12 hours (overnight). Shower in the morning.
  • If it comes back again, use Selsun every summer once a month. Reason: The fungus thrives in warm weather.
What to Expect:
  • With treatment, in 2 weeks the scaling should be gone. The rash should stop spreading.
  • Normal skin color, however, will not return for 6 to 12 months.
  • The problem tends to come and go for many years.
Return to School:
  • Your child doesn't have to miss any school for Tinea versicolor.
  • It cannot be spread to others.
  • This fungus is found in the hair follicles in many people. Only a few develop the overgrowth of the fungus and a rash.

Author: Barton Schmitt MD, FAAP
Copyright 2000-2021 Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines LLC
Disclaimer: This health information is for educational purposes only. You the reader assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.
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