Malassezia furfur is the etiological agent of pityriasis versicolor a.k.a. tinea versicolor. This condition is a superficial infection of the skin characterized by hypo- or hyperpigmentation of the patient’s skin. It is most commonly seen on the upper chest, back, arms, and neck. Conditions that reduce the shedding of the epidermal cells of the skin can contribute to this infection as well as poor nutrition, pregnancy, and excessive sweating. M. furfur has also been isolated as the cause of folliculitis, catheter-acquired sepsis, and even dandruff. However, M. globosa is the most commonly associated Malassezia species with dandruff as Procter and Gamble (makers of Head & Shoulders dandruff shampoo) have even sequenced the genome to better understand its high lipase activity and its role in dandruff causation. M. globosa and M. sympodalis have also been shown to cause pityriasis versicolor in humans.
However, it should be noted that as M. furfur is a common organism in the normal flora of human skin, simply isolating this species does not necessarily mean that it caused the disease the patient has incurred. Appropriate actions must be taken to insure that M. furfur was indeed the causative agent.
<img src=“http://www.uwlax.edu/faculty/volk/t_versicolor.jpg”; align=left alt=“Pityriasis versicolor depigmentation”>