Summer is here, and I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to hit the beach—with tons of sunscreen and an umbrella, of course! Along with warm weather and humidity, summer can also bring a case of tinea versicolor. This common skin infection, affectionately called “haole rot” by surfers and swimmers, is known to rev up during summer months, appearing as slightly scaly white, pink, or brown patches on the shoulders, neck, abdomen, and/or arms.
Having seen tinea versicolor hundreds of times in my office, I thought I’d give you the “411” on this harmless condition to make sure it doesn’t ruin your beach day fun!
Tinea versicolor is…
- Caused by a yeast that normally lives on the skin’s surface. When it’s hot and humid, it turns into a fungus and causes a rash.
- Slightly scaly and can appear in white, pink, or brown patches.
- Likely to occur on the shoulders, neck, abdomen and/or arms, and is uncommon on other parts of the body.
- Spots become more noticeable as the skin tans. The yeast prevents the skin from tanning.
- Stimulated by body oils and sweat.
- Tends to recur, so maintenance treatments might be necessary.
- Easily diagnosed by a dermatologist.
- Easily treatable with antifungal creams, cleansers, and sometimes pills.
Tinea versicolor is not…
- Harmful or dangerous.
- Permanent, nor does it cause scarring.
Now that you know what tinea versicolor is, let’s talk about what’s really important: some steps you can take to avoid getting it. First off, wearing loose clothing and choosing fabrics that wick sweat away makes it harder for the fungus to grow. Oily skin is more susceptible, so make sure to keep your oil under control. If your chest and back tend to be oily, you can try using an acne-type cleanser with salicylic acid on a regular basis. You’ll also want to routinely launder all clothes, linens, and towels. Lastly, make sure you’re using sunscreen and that it’s oil-free. If you’re looking for great sunscreen recommendations, check out Dr. Magovern’s Sunscreen Picks for 2014. All the sunscreens featured there are oil-free formulations that are great for work or play.
Now that you’re ready to hit the sand, have a great 4th of July weekend! And if you find yourself with a case of “haole rot” or any other skin concerns over the summer, come on in and we’ll be happy to help. To make an appointment, please call us at 310.546.1188 or request one online—we look forward to seeing you!