Girl brings odd rash home from camp


August 17, 1993|By Modena Wilson, M.D.and Alain Joffe, M.D. | Modena Wilson, M.D.and Alain Joffe, M.D.,Contributing Writers

Q: My daughter came home from sleep-away camp with an itchy rash on her chest, back and shoulders. Some of the spots are white, but it doesn't look like poison ivy.

A: It sounds like your daughter has a fungal infection called tinea versicolor. The fungus that causes it (Pityrosporum ovale) normally lives on the skin but tends to thrive in warm, humid weather. The spots are white because infected areas of the skin do not tan. However, the rash may also appear as hyperpigmented (darkened) or scaly areas. There may be a familial tendency to this fungus.

If the area is relatively small, over-the-counter antifungal creams work well. For more extensive infection, selenium sulfide lotion or ketoconazole pills (both prescriptions) are used. Consult your doctor to determine which is appropriate.

Dr. Wilson is director of general pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center; Dr. Joffe is director of adolescent medicine.

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