Pityriasis Versicolor vs Vitiligo: Know the Differences

Pityriasis Versicolor vs Vitiligo: Pityriasis Versicolor and Vitiligo, though both causing skin discoloration, are distinct conditions. Pityriasis Versicolor is a fungal infection leading to scaly patches that can be lighter or darker than surrounding skin, commonly on the chest and back. Vitiligo, on the other hand, is an autoimmune disorder causing complete loss of pigment in well-defined, smooth patches, often on the face, hands, and around body openings.

Difference Between Pityriasis Versicolor and Vitiligo

Pityriasis versicolor and vitiligo are both pigmentation-related skin disorders, although their causes, symptoms, and therapies differ. Here are the key differences between vitiligo and pityriasis versicolor.


Pityriasis Versicolor



Fungal infection (Malassezia species)

Autoimmune (body attacks melanocytes)


Small, scaly patches, variable color (white to brown)

Depigmented patches, well-defined borders


Often on oily skin areas (chest, back, shoulders)

Anywhere on the body, often symmetrical


Typically localized, may spread if untreated

Can spread over time to larger areas of the body


Mild itching may occur

Itching is not a typical symptom

Response to Sunlight

Patches may darken with sun exposure

Patches lack melanin, do not tan

Age of Onset

Adolescents, young adults

Can develop at any age, often before 20


Clinical appearance, confirmed with skin scrapings/fungal culture

Based on characteristic appearance of depigmented patches


Topical or oral antifungal medications

Topical corticosteroids, phototherapy, immunomodulators


Responds well to treatment, minimal long-term pigment changes

Treatment can be challenging, repigmentation not always achievable

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What is Pityriasis Versicolor?

Pityriasis versicolor, or tinea versicolor, is a fungal condition that produces discoloured areas of skin. It is caused by an overgrowth of a yeast that normally exists on the skin. These patches can be brighter or darker than the surrounding skin and are most commonly found on the chest, back, upper arms, and neck.The fungus thrives in warm, humid environments and can worsen with sweating or tight clothing. Pityriasis versicolor is usually harmless and easily treated with antifungal medications.

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Key Features of Pityriasis Versicolor:

  • Pityriasis versicolor, or tinea versicolor, is a common fungal condition that causes skin patches. Here's an overview of its main features:
  • Caused by an overgrowth of Malassezia yeast, which is normally found on the skin.
  • Causes the formation of circular or oval patches of different colours - brighter, darker, or even pink, red, or brown compared to the surrounding skin.
  • Fungal development frequently causes minor flaking or scaling in affected regions.
  • It most commonly affects the upper body, specifically the back, chest, shoulders, and upper arms.

What is Vitiligo?

Vitiligo is an autoimmune disease that results in the loss of pigment-producing cells (melanocytes) in the skin. This causes white patches to form on numerous regions of the body, particularly on the face, hands, and around bodily openings such as the mouth and eyes. The exact cause of vitiligo is unknown, but it's thought to involve a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Unlike pityriasis versicolor, vitiligo doesn't have a cure, but treatment options can help manage the condition and even restore some pigment.

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Key Features of Vitiligo:

  • Vitiligo, on the other hand, is a chronic autoimmune disease that results in the loss of pigment-producing cells (melanocytes) in the skin. Here's a close look:
  • Melanocytes are responsible for skin and hair colour. In vitiligo, their absence causes white areas.
  • Vitiligo appears as well-defined white spots on various body areas.
  • Unlike pityriasis versicolor, the afflicted skin regions in vitiligo are smooth and do not scale.
  • Vitiligo can develop anywhere on the body, although it most usually affects regions exposed to sunlight, such as the face, hands, eyes, lips, and genitals.

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Similarities between Pityriasis Versicolor and Vitiligo

  • Both disorders include changes in skin pigmentation, which result in regions of aberrant coloration.
  • Neither illness is infectious, which means it cannot be transmitted from person to person by touch.
  • Because of their visibility and propensity to impair self-esteem, these illnesses may have a substantial psychological impact on people.
  • Both pityriasis versicolor and vitiligo are chronic illnesses that may need continuing treatment to alleviate symptoms and prevent recurrence or development.
  • The appearance of these disorders can fluctuate greatly between people, with variations in patch size, shape, and distribution.
  • Certain risk factors, such as family history, genetics, and environmental exposure, may predispose someone to acquire either illness.
  • While the predominant symptom of both disorders is skin darkening, patients with either condition may suffer related symptoms such as itching or irritation, although these are more common in pityriasis versicolor.
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What is Pityriasis Versicolor, and how does it differ from Vitiligo?

Pityriasis Versicolor is a common fungal infection of the skin caused by the yeast Malassezia furfur. It leads to discolored patches on the skin. Vitiligo, on the other hand, is a long-term skin condition characterized by patches of the skin losing their pigment. While both affect skin coloration, the causes and mechanisms behind them differ.

Are there any similarities between Pityriasis Versicolor and Vitiligo?

Both conditions manifest as patches on the skin with altered pigmentation. However, the underlying causes, treatment approaches, and prognosis differ significantly between the two.

What are the typical features of Pityriasis Versicolor and Vitiligo?

Pityriasis Versicolor often presents as small, scaly, discolored patches, usually on the chest, back, neck, and arms. Vitiligo patches are typically depigmented and can appear anywhere on the body, often with a symmetrical distribution.

How do Pityriasis Versicolor and Vitiligo develop?

Pityriasis Versicolor develops due to overgrowth of the yeast Malassezia furfur on the skin's surface, leading to discoloration. Vitiligo, however, is an autoimmune condition where the body's immune system attacks and destroys melanocytes, the cells responsible for producing pigment.

Can Pityriasis Versicolor turn into Vitiligo?

No, Pityriasis Versicolor cannot turn into Vitiligo. They are separate conditions with distinct underlying causes and mechanisms.

Is Pityriasis Versicolor contagious like Vitiligo?

Pityriasis Versicolor is not contagious, as it is caused by a naturally occurring yeast on the skin. Vitiligo is also not contagious; it's an autoimmune condition and not infectious.