Vitiligo and tinea versicolor are two chronic skin disorders that are often mistaken for each other. This is not surprising, because they typically have similar symptoms. However, those who have either of them have to know for certain which condition they are suffering from in order to get the proper treatment that they need.
The difference between vitiligo and tinea versicolor
While the two conditions may appear similar, there is no confusion as to what causes them. Vitiligo is generally regarded as an autoimmune disease, wherein the body’s own immune system attacks and destroys or disables the melanocytes, the cells which produce melanin, the pigment that gives our skin its normal color. Recent studies also suggest that it can also be hereditary in nature, or caused by certain nutritional deficiencies as well as extreme trauma or excessive stress. Tinea versicolor, on the other hand, is caused by an overgrowth of the Malassezia globosa fungus, which resides naturally on human skin. Warm and humid conditions often trigger this growth, and it more commonly occurs in people whose immune systems have been weakened. Having oily skin and sweating a lot is also a contributing factor to the fungal infection.
Among the common similarities between vitiligo and tinea versicolor is a marked discoloration of the skin. There is, however, a big difference when it comes to this particular similarity. The spots or patches on the skin of a vitiligo patient tend to be white, as they are completely depigmented. They are often found on fingers, toes, knees, around the eyes and mouth, the genitals and lower back. There is no noticeable scaling or itching. The spots on the skin of a tinea versicolor patient, on the other hand, is more like a rash that occurs mainly on the upper trunk, and are often lighter or darker that the skin around them. While these patches could appear white, they can also appear pink, red, or brown in color. They could also become dry, scaly and even itchy.
Vitiligo may affect people of any age. On the other hand, tinea versicolor is more common in teenagers and young adults.
One fortunate similarity between the two skin conditions is the fact that neither of them is contagious. Whether or not a person is suffering a mild or severe form of vitiligo or tinea versicolor does not matter, as you could not catch it from them, nor can they infect other people with their disorder.
Treatments for vitiligo and tinea versicolor
Even the available treatments for either condition vary greatly. For vitiligo, patients often resort to phototherapy, corticosteroid creams or ointments or even skin grafts to manage their condition. Meanwhile, tinea versicolor sufferers are encouraged to use topical antifungal creams, l
To be absolutely sure, the best thing to do would be to visit a dermatologist, who will conduct certain tests that will determine if the condition is vitiligo, tinea versicolor or something else.