Colored lichen (pityriasis versicolor, sun fungus) is an infectious, fungal skin disease affecting only the horny epidermic layer with no inflammatory reactions. The disease is mildly contagious.

The causative agent of the colored lichen is a surface fungus of Pityrsporum orbiculare or Malassezia furfur species.

Excessive sweating, chemical composition of sweat, disturbance of physiological peeling of the horny layer and individual predisposition are believed to contribute to the development of the disease.

The disease occurs more often in patients suffering from diabetes mellitus, vegetative neurosis with excessive sweating and pulmonary tuberculosis. But not all the authors share this point of view. The disease is more prevalent among young men and women, children (especially, under 7 years old) get it rarely.

Symptoms of colored lichen 

Non-inflammatory, yellowish-brownish-pink spots appear on the affected skin. They can merge occupying considerable skin areas. Gradually, the spots become dark-brown. The change in the color contributed to the name of the disease. The spots do not protrude above the skin surface presenting no trouble to the patient except for rare mild itching. This is accompanied by flour-like peeling (this contributed to a second name of the disease). The spots are usually located asymmetrically, mostly on the skin of the chest and the back. Sometimes, they can be seen on the skin of the neck, abdomen, lateral surfaces of the trunk and external surfaces of the shoulders.

The course of the disease is long with frequent recurrences following the treatment. It should be taken into account that sunbathing can lead to prompt recovery, with consequent appearance of white spots (pseudoleukoderma) on the sites of former eruptions.

Prophylaxis of colored lichen

Synthetic underwear is not recommended, as well as frequent contact with water. Excessive sweating should be treated.

Prophylaxis of repeated infection includes a broad range of general hygienic procedures: conditioning, regular water-salty or water-vinegar rubdowns, treatment of excessive sweating. In spring, it is advised to wipe the skin with 2% salicylic spirit.

How to avoid infection during the holiday season:

  • you shouldn’t sunbathe immediately after bathing, wait until your skin becomes dry;
  • use sun creams with SPF-filter and don’t overdo with sunbathing;
  • it’s better not to sunbathe at spontaneous beaches;
  • use only your personal towels and wash them regularly;
  • take a shower after visiting a beach or having a rest in the open air;
  • observe the rules of personal hygiene and never use the things belonging to other people.

Following these simple recommendations, you will be able to avoid infection and preserve your health and peace of mind.

N.I. Komarovskaya, doctor-dermatovenerologist