When I tell patients we all have yeast growing on our skin I usually get the “you did not just say that” look. When this yeast grows out of control a person can develop a skin condition called Tinea Versicolor. This is a common condition and is not contagious since we all have this yeast living on us. We see it frequently in tropical areas because yeast thrives on warm, moist skin. Most people will notice that they have pink, white, or brown scaly patches on their chest and back. During the summer time the spots become more noticeable because the yeast does not allow the skin to tan.
To confirm the diagnosis I often will take a small scraping of skin and look at it under the microscope in order to see the yeast. Treatment options depend on several things: where it appears on the body, how much of the skin is affected and how thick the spots have grown. This condition can be treated with anti-fungal creams and pills. While the fungus is easy to kill, the patient may have white spots that take a few months to return to normal color while their tan fades. If you are prone to getting tinea versicolor there are a few things you can do to prevent the breakout. Wash your skin with a shampoo that contains selenium sulfide, like Selsum Blue, and keep the area as dry as possible.