Symptoms and Signs of Tinea Versicolor vs. Vitiligo

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 10/1/2021

Doctor's Notes on Tinea Versicolor vs. Vitiligo

Tinea versicolor and vitiligo are both conditions that produce skin changes, but they are very different diseases. Tinea versicolor caused by a fungal infection that results in small, discolored patches of skin. Vitiligo is an autoimmune skin disease that progressively destroys the skin's pigment-producing cells and results in areas of white skin devoid of melanin pigment.

Tinea versicolor and vitiligo both cause skin changes:

  • Tinea versicolor (versicolor means "color variations") may produce dark spots or redness on light skin, or patches of lightness on dark skin. The appearance may vary depending on whether the person is pale or tan, or where on the body the patches occur.
  • Vitiligo causes lightening of the skin that progresses to a loss of color, including whitening or graying of hair in the affected area.

What Is the Treatment for Tinea Versicolor vs. Vitiligo?

Treatment for tinea versicolor involves antifungal medications:

  • Mild cases may be treated with over-the-counter antifungal medications applied to the skin.
  • More severe cases may require prescription antifungal cream, gels, shampoo, or antifungal medications taken in pill form.
  • In some cases, taking medication over time is required to prevent the infection from recurring.

Vitiligo is not an infection and results from damage to the melanin-producing cells of the skin. There is no known treatment to reverse vitiligo symptoms.


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.