During the Summer, various skin conditions occur due to heat and time outdoors. Larry Weidell, PA-C explains what causes the dreaded sun spots of Summer.
The warm humid months of summer are frequently associated with a skin condition called Tinea Versicolor (also known as “Pityriasis Versicolor”). People are often bothered by discolored “sun spots” which are common and not contagious. The spots occur as discolored areas on the trunk, neck and / or upper arms. In persons of color, the spots can also occur on the forehead and temples. These areas are sometimes itchy and have a very superficial scale that is noticeable when scraping with a fingernail.
The cause of Tinea Versicolor is Malassezia, a yeast that is found on normal skin but can also cause skin infections when the yeast is altered and grows in over abundance. Factors that influence growth of Malassezia include any of the following: heat, humidity, sweating, oily skin, and a weakened immune system. Although this condition can be very responsive to a diversity of treatment options, recurrences are rather common. Treatment options include over the counter products such as selenium sulfide (Selsun Blue) and pyrithione zinc shampoo, among others. Although these products can help, they may cause irritation and do not always work. Topical prescription medicated creams are effective and should be used over a few weeks as prescribed. Systemic medications are often utilized for Tinea Versicolor because of their short duration, ease of use, and generally, good tolerability.
Regardless of the treatment option selected, discolored areas (which may be lighter or darker than normal skin) generally require 2-3 months or more to return to a normal skin color after completion of treatment. The itching and scale resolve much sooner. Preventative medication can be taken one time per month for those who are challenged with recurrences.