Ringworm, Multicolored (Tinea Versicolor)

  • The name means “multicolored ringworm.”
  • The condition occurs in adolescents and adults.
  • 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 normal skin.
  • In winter as normal skin fades, the spots look darker (often pink or brown) than normal Caucasian skin.


This superficial infection is caused by a yeast-like fungus call Malassezia furfur. It is more common in warm, humid climates.

Expected Course

The problem tends to wax and wane for many years. Since complications do not occur, tinea versicolor is solely a cosmetic problem. Itching is uncommon.

Home Care

Selsun Blue Shampoo. Selsun Blue (selenium sulfide) is a nonprescription medicated shampoo that can cure this condition. Apply this shampoo once each day for 14 days. Apply it to the affected skin areas as well as 2-3 inches onto the adjacent normal skin. Rub it in and let it dry. Be careful to keep it away from the eyes and genitals, since it is irritating to these tissues. After 30 minutes, take a shower. In 2 weeks the scaling should be stopped, and the rash temporarily cured. Normal skin color will not return for 6 to 12 months.

Prevention of Recurrences. Tinea versicolor tends to recur. Prevent this by applying Selsun Blue shampoo to the formerly involved areas once each month for several years. Leave it on for 1-2 hours, then shower. This precaution is especially important in the summer months, because this fungus thrives in warm weather.

Contagiousness. Tinea versicolor is not contagious. This fungus is a normal inhabitant of the hair follicles in many people. Only a few develop the overgrowth of the fungus and a rash.

CALL OUR OFFICE During regular hours if:

  • The rash is not improved with this treatment after 2 weeks.
  • You feel your child is getting worse.
  • You have other questions or concerns.