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By Amina Abdul Salam

Tinea versicolour is one of the skin diseases resulting from over activity of fungus which is a type of yeast found on the surface of the skin. Its prevalence increases in countries with a hot climate. People of 20 to 35 are the most vulnerable to infection with tinea versicolour.

Other ages, including children, may also get infected with it. Dr Mohamed Hussein Abo Hadeed, Assistant Researcher of Dermatology and Andrology, National Research Centre, says it is not true that tinea versicolour is passed on from a sick person to another person or comes from swimming pools as is generally believed.

The fungi which causes tinea versicolour exists on the skin surface naturally. But in certain conditions it may become activated in people who have readiness for the infection. Then the fungi multiplies on the skin and tinea versicolour begins to emerge.
There are factors that help this to happen. Excessive reproduction of fungi in hot weather is one such factor. Sweat, humid weather and a weak immunity system are others.

This is especially the case during pregnancy or due to some illness and the intake of medicines such as antibiotics or cortisone.

"Sometimes more than one person in a family is afflicted with tinea versicolour. That is due to a genetic factor which plays a role in the infection at a rate of not less than 18 per cent," according to Dr Abo Hadeed.

He said that tinea varsicolour appears in the form of discoloured patches on the skin ranging from light brown to pink and white which spreads on the chest, neck, upper part of the arm and in some cases the disease reaches to the abdomen, thigh and back.
The affected person complains of itching especially in hot weather and increased sweat.
Dr Abo Hadeed says that tinea varsicolour is treated with use of an antifungal cream twice daily for at least two weeks. In cases in which the discoloured patches spread over a large part of the body, a shampoo that contains Ketoconazole can be used.

This shampoo should be used on the body and rinsed off after five minutes only three times weekly. Another shampoo containing Selenium Sulfide can be used and rinsed off after 30 minutes three times weekly. They can also be used for prevention of the infection.

In most cases, tinea versicolour doesn’t leave any after effect following the treatment, but the skin may not return to its normal colour, says Dr Abo Hadeed. In that case, cortisone can be used in addition to avoiding ultraviolet rays.

The disease may come back again due to the activity of fungi. So Dr Abo Hadeed advises the patient to avoid exposure to high temperatures, wear cotton clothes to absorb sweat and use shampoo at least once weekly.