Tinea versicolor is a harmless skin disorder caused by a yeast, Malassezia furfur, which may be found on normal skin.
This yeast usually grows sparsely without causing any symptoms.
For unknown reasons, it grows more actively in certain individuals.
This results in pale brown flaky patches on the trunk, neck, or arms.
Tinea versicolor is pink or coppery in pale subjects, but on tanned skin the patches are lighter, since tanning does not occur in the affected areas.
The yeast produces a chemical, which diffuses down and impairs the function of the pigment cells in the underlying skin.
The failure to tan is temporary; the skin tans normally with sun exposure after the rash has cleared up.
Tinea versicolor is generally not contagious.
It is more common in hot, humid climates or in those who sweat heavily, so it may recur each summer.
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