What Causes White Spots On The Skin?

Skin discolorations are very common. Some suffer from red acne patches, some dark freckled spots, while some are bothered by white spots or patches on the skin. This article discusses about what causes white spots on the skin.

What Causes White Spots On The Skin?

What Causes White Spots On The Skin?

Most of the time the white spots on the skin are not of major concern and also do not develop any other symptoms. However, knowing about what causes white spots on the skin is important to be able to manage the condition better.

White spot on skin occurs because of the skin proteins or dead cells getting trapped under the skin surface. They might also appear due to depigmentation or color loss.

But anything against normal should be corrected which is why it is important to get diagnosed for the reason and to go ahead with the appropriate treatment for the same. There are various conditions which can lead to white spots on the skin. Here are some of the commonest causes of white spots on the skin.

Guttate Hypomelanosis or Sun Spots

Sunspots occur where the skin pigment is lost. The spots due to guttate hypomelanosis are usually 1-3 mm in size and mostly appear on the legs, arms, upper back, and back. They cause no symptoms. These are one of the very common causes of white spots on the skin. The reason for their occurrence is not much known but is thought to be due to lack of skin pigment melanin. It is known to run in family and occur after the age of 40 years. Sunspots are harmless, and cosmetic concern is the main motive to treat them.

Treatment options include wearing sunscreen every day, avoiding time in the sun, artificial suntans, dermabrasions, and steroid creams.

Pityriasis Alba

Pityriasis Alba is a non-cancerous condition which develops as red, scaly, and itchy patches, which when heal, leave pale or white patches or spots on the skin. This too is a common condition that causes white spots on the skin. It occurs mostly in children and is commonly seen on the face, neck, shoulder, and arm. The exact cause of Pityriasis Alba is not known but is thought to be a variant of atopic dermatitis.

Another form of this condition is a pigmenting type of pityriasis alba, which is a rare. It is one of the causes of white spots on the skin, which have bluish scaly patches and are outlined by very light skin.

Treatment of pityriasis lays stress on regular use of moisturizers, low dose corticosteroid creams, and few non-steroidal formulas.

Pityriasis Versicolor Or Tinea Versicolor

Tinea versicolor occurs when the fungus present in the surface of the skin overgrows. It is noticeable when the person gets a suntan and in a warm and humid environment. It leads to dry, scaly, itchy patches which are lighter than the surrounding skin. These patches slowly grow and cluster together with other similar patches.

This commonly forms white spots on the skin.

Treatment options include regular use of moisturizers, low dose corticosteroid creams, or non-steroidal creams.

Milia

Milia often form as a result of trapping of a protein called keratin, a protein, under the skin layers. This causes the formation of fluid filled sacs on the surface of the skin. These sacs are known as milia. This leads to the formation of a fluid-filled sac known as milia on the surface of the skin. In some cases, milia can also develop due to trauma to the skin. Some of the common examples include certain cosmetic treatments, blistering, tissue damage, skin inflammation, or as a response to certain medications. Milia are raised, firm, painless, white, and fluids filled and are 1-4 mm wide.

Retinoid and steroidal creams are used to treat milia.

Vitiligo

Vitiligo is a skin condition in which white patches appear where the cells making skin pigment are destroyed, called hypopigmentation.1 It is believed to be an autoimmune condition and is one of the main causes of white spots on the skin.

It may develop slowly or quickly and develop in places exposed to the sun. It also runs in family and mostly the discoloration gets noticed in the 20s. Depending on the severity of symptoms the treatment options are chosen. Low dose corticosteroid creams, ultraviolet cream, bleaching the skin, or surgery to remove the upper portion of the affected skin, are the few treatment options to treat vitiligo.

Mostly the white spots on the skin do not need any treatment. But it is important to get the white spots checked to diagnose the underlying cause. This helps in treating the condition appropriately.

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3108518/

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