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Tinea versicolor is a condition that results when our skin experiences an overgrowth of a certain type of yeast. We all have yeast that lives on our skin, and when it’s hot and humid, this yeast grows more quickly. Tinea versicolor results from this overgrowth. It’s categorized as a fungal infection, as yeast is a type of fungus. But unlike other fungal infections like ringworm or athlete’s foot, tinea versicolor is not contagious. And while it can be persistent, it doesn’t damage the skin.
Usually this condition appears on the arms and trunk. If often appears as small, light-colored spots that are white, brown, tan or pink. Sometimes these are dry and scaly. While appearing faint at first, with enough growth, patches that are lighter (or sometimes darker) can appear on the skin. Even if the fungus is taken care of, the discoloration on the skin can remain for weeks or months.
Everyone has yeast living on the surface of their skin, but it’s not clear why some develop tinea versicolor and not others.