An-an – What’s the English word for “An-an”? (Tagalog-Filipino)

sittin' on a pity pot
“An an” (tagalog) or White Spots, scientific name:  Tinea versicolor (Pityriasis versicolor).  (Photo credit: Sarah Korf)

The quick answer is Tinea versicolor (Pityriasis versicolor) or commonly, “White Spot”,  “panau”.  This is what the tagalog word “an-an” is in English.

What is “An-an”?

“White spot”,  “panau”, or “an-an” is a superficial fungal infection of the skin, is common to children and adults specially in warm climates, like the Philippines.  “An-an” is made up of white patches on the skin that are fine and scaly.  It may appear on your neck, shoulders, face, trunk, legs or arms.

What Causes “An-an”?

Tinea versicolor (“an-an”) is a common skin disease and caused by a yeast fungus called Pityrosporum ovale. This type of fungus is found normally on human skin but only causes problems in certain conditions.  This disease is common in young adult men and adolescent boys,  typically occurring in hot climates.

Symptoms of “An-an”

The main symptoms of “an-an” are:

  • Patches of discolored skin
  • Have sharp borders (edges) and fine scales (“magaspang”)
  • Most often are dark reddish-tan in color or white
  • Are found on the underarms, neck,  chest,  upper arms, and back
  • The area infected does not darken in the sun so it is lighter than the healthy skin around it
  • Dark-skinned persons may have a loss of skin color (hypopigmentation) or an increase in skin color (hyperpigmentation).

Other symptoms include:

  • Itchiness of the affected area(s)
  • Increased sweating

“An-an” Treatment

“An-an” is treated with anti-fungal medicines, applied to the skin.  These medicines include clotrimazoleketoconazole, andmiconazole.  Anti-fungal medicines taken orally may also be used.  Over-the-counter dandruff shampoos (i.e., Selsun Blue, Head and Shoulders) applied to the skin for 10 minutes everyday is another treatment option.

Expectations (prognosis)

“An-an” is easily treated, but changes in skin color may last for months.  The condition may come back during warm weather.

Call your health care provider

Call your doctor if you develop symptoms of tinea versicolor.

Prevention of “An an”

Avoid excessive heat or sweating if you have had this condition in the past. You can also use anti-dandruff shampoo on your skin every month to help prevent the problem.


  1. James WD, Berger TG, Elston DM, eds. Andrews’ Diseases of the Skin: Clinical Dermatology. 11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 15.
  2. Hay RJ. Dermatophytosis and other superficial mycoses. In: Mandell GL, Bennett JE, Dolin R, eds. Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2009:chap 267.
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