Medical Questions » Skin Infections Questions » Question No. 909
Question:I have patches of white scales on my body. In my armpit they look red. I' ve had it for years and it comes and goes. What is it?
Answer:It is almost certainly pityriasis versicolor. This is a fungal infection of the skin that is very common in the tropics and becomes less common as you move south. It is unusual south of Queensland and unheard of in Tasmania. This fungus can flare and settle, depending on the season, and produces the type of rash you describe. It tends to be chronic, and although treated in an apparently successful fashion, tends to recur in the next summer. The infection prevents the ultra-violet rays of the sun from reaching rhe pigment layer of the skin, and so in exposed areas you develop a tan that is covered in white spots where the infection is present, giving a polka-dot effect. Curing the infection does not remove the white spots, because they are due to lack of a sun tan. In areas not exposed to die sun the infection produces red scale-covered patches. Treatment involves lotions, foams and/or tablets from your doctor. The infection can usually be cured, but don' t be surprised if it comes back again next year.
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