Antifungal Treatment for Pityriasis Versicolor

J Fungi (Basel). 2015 Mar 12;1(1):13-29. doi: 10.3390/jof1010013.


Background: Pityriasis versicolor (PV), also known as tinea versicolor, is caused by Malassezia species. This condition is one of the most common superficial fungal infections worldwide, particularly in tropical climates. PV is difficult to cure and the chances for relapse or recurrent infections are high due to the presence of Malassezia in the normal skin flora. This review focuses on the clinical evidence supporting the efficacy of antifungal treatment for PV.

Method: A systematic review of literature from the PubMed database was conducted up to 30 September 2014. The search criteria were "(pityriasis versicolor OR tinea versicolor) AND treatment", with full text available and English language required.

Conclusions: Topical antifungal medications are the first-line treatment for PV, including zinc pyrithione, ketoconazole, and terbinafine. In cases of severe or recalcitrant PV, the oral antifungal medications itraconazole and fluconazole may be more appropriate, with pramiconazole a possible future option. Oral terbinafine is not effective in treating PV and oral ketoconazole should no longer be prescribed. Maintenance, or prophylactic, therapy may be useful in preventing recurrent infection; however, at this time, there is limited research evaluating the efficacy of prophylactic antifungal treatment.

Keywords: Malassezia; ketoconazole; oral antifungals; tinea versicolor; topical antifungals.

Publication types

  • Review