Do you have white spots on your skin? When they appear on the face, arms, and legs they become unsightly. And this could determine whether you need to go for treatment or not. However, they are would not be a risk for skin cancer.
This post covers mainly the causes and facts about white spots on the body.
What causes white spots on skin?
Read on to know skin conditions, disorders responsible this condition.
1. Pityriasis alba
According to DermNet New Zealand, pityriasis alba is a low-grade type of eczema. Young people (kids and adolescents) with a family history of eczema are at risk of pityriasis alba. However, the exact cause remains unknown.
Characteristics and signs
This skin disorder is characterized by body patches clinically identified as pink or red. This is the typical nature of appearance but the patches can fade out and become lighter. When this happens, the affects areas appear with less pigmented or light marks.
The white patches due to pityriasis alba are also characteristic of smooth, scaly skin surface.
The light-colored spots are more visible during the summer. And perhaps that could be the reason why these spots are referred to as light spots. However, the red colored or pink patches do not tan after exposure to sunlight.
Common areas affected include the face, neck, arms, chest and the back.
Pityriasis alba is harmless and may not require any treatments since it can clear on its own. The patches may last on for a few years. In this case, one can go for a consultation. Treatment is considered optional.
2. Tinea Versicolor – skin fungal infection
Tinea versicolor is a skin disease or condition brought about by an overgrowth of a naturally occurring fungus. The fungus responsible is the Malassezia species. The Malassezia sp. Is found in small numbers on human skin. However, under certain conditions, the fungi will grow out of self-control and cause Tinea Versicor. These conditions include excessive or infrequent sweating, living in humid areas or swimming in warm waters. Other risk factors are
- Individuals with an oily skin
- Poor nutrition and being malnutrition
- Immunosuppressive medication or infections
- During pregnancy
Despite the odds, the positive thing is that Tinea versicolor is treatable. First though, for one to effectively control the fungus growth, a skin test and evaluative diagnosis is fundamental. This will enable your health care provider to know the severity and potentially how the fungus has spread. Subsequently, your doctor will best determine the most appropriate medication and in which forms to administer them. And that is so to avoid instances of recurring in the future.
3. Vitiligo (spots or patches in skin)
Vitiligo is a disorder which can affect a large leading to loss of skin pigmentation. In trying to study the causes of Vitiligo, experts from research institutions such as the American Vitiligo Research Foundation have linked it to autoimmune body response or a disorder of the immune system. In this theorized explanation, it is thought that the melanin cells are destroyed by the body attacks itself.
Secondly, from vitiligo family stories, dermatologists have studied how members of certain families can be affected. This implies that heredity on its part is a factor as far as the occurrence of this condition is a concern.
Characteristics and vitiligo facts
This condition begins as small areas marked by loss of melanin in the skin. If the cells responsible for producing melanin die, white irregular patches will appear. It can form on the face, sides of the body trunk, arms, and legs including the knees.
There are several patterns of this condition that manifests in the skin. One is a focal pattern where a small area is affected. The next is the segmental pattern – in which only one side of the body is affected. Another one is a generalized pattern. Here, both sides of the body parts are affected (be it the cheeks, ribs, sides of the abdomen, legs, etc.)
With severity, Vitiligo can lead to total loss of skin color (depigmentation). Where small areas of your true skin color are left visible. In some cases, vitiligo can lead to greying of hair color such as the eyelashes.
Vitiligo is not very common but individual life is largely affected. For instance, some people with vitiligo lose self-esteem, emotionally withdrawn from the normal life. Such individuals can get optional treatment but there is no definite cure.
Hypopigmentation simply refers to the partial or total loss of pigment that results in loss of true skin color. If any part becomes hypopigmented, there is a decrease in melanin and consequently lighter skin. The two common conditions associated with this include IGH and nevus dipigmentosus.
a. Idiopathic Guttate Hypomelanosis – from sun
Also known as ‘white age spots’, Idiopathic Guttate Hypomelanosis is a (benign) skin condition that is responsible for a change in pigmentation. Though the real cause is not well established, it is believed that its occurrence is due to the influence of the sun. In addition, IGH affects more individuals who are older more probably over 40, 50 years and so on. This condition occurs with the natural aging process but in that respect, aging is not what actually causes it.
How do they look like on the skin? IGH usually form small flat white spots that resemble the size of a pencil rubber. At times they appear oval in shape or look like small macules or hypopigmented marks. They are also smooth to touching (unless you have a problem with your skin texture). For more details refer to the pictures.
Common areas found include the forearms and on the legs (the shins and on the calf). It is due to the fact that these macules tend to occur on body parts that are exposed to the sun.
Basically, IGH has not been reported to cause any health concern. Neither is it a risk for skin cancer nor any other serious health-related problems. However, if you really feel that you need to get rid of them, consult your health doctor or a dermatologist.
Although it is uncommon for the young people, it is wise to avoid overexposure to sunlight since sunbathing increases the chances that you will develop the macules later.
b. Nevus depigmentosus
This is another skin problem that results in depigmentation. Unlike vitiligo, the characteristic white spots result from abnormalities in the function of melanocytes. This means that the cells produce little pigment than it is required for normal pigmentation. Even though, the exact scientific reason is not explained for.
Characteristics and symptoms that describe it are as follows:
- Hypopigmented or white colored spots on any part of skin
- These spots are usually localized (superficial on the skin surface) but are permanent
- The small areas affected are prone to sunburn
Statistically, about 20% of the cases of this problem occur during childbirth and are not related to aging. There are no specific treatments or remedies to get rid of the spots. However, PUVA therapy and grafting are quite helpful in dealing with the problem.
5. Vitamin deficiency
A severe vitamin deficiency could result in a change in the pigmentation of the skin. Normally, the one ends up with white skin marks and patches.
Malnutrition and poor diet are the major contributing factors. The white spots are common in children but anyone can be a victim. Common (vitamin) deficiencies include Vitamin B12, D, and E, lack of Calcium, Zinc, and iron.
Small white spots on the skin
Do you have little white spots on skin? Their size can vary. They can be as small as a dot or tip of the felt pen. In many cases, small skin spots show no tendency to increase across the diameter.
From what we have discussed, small or little white colored spots and marks are caused by Idiopathic Guttate Hypomelanosis (IGH), tinea versicolor (esp. when the infection starts) and vitamin deficiency. These spots can also be caused by a body response to certain medications, repeated injury, and trauma.
The neck is one of the body parts that is exposed to sunlight more often unless you have some means of blocking the direct UV rays. Common causes of white spots in the neck area include Tinea Versicolor, vitiligo, IGH and pityriasis alba.
Is there need to seek treatment for white spots on skin? Any change from the normal pigmentation of the skin can be a source of fear and will raise awareness. Some people seem to get confused whether to go for treatment or not. If you lose self-esteem due to these spots or patches it always sees a dermatologist/personal doctor and talks about it.
Treatment is optional in some cases but is required in special situations where pigmentation problems cause a deviation in normal life.
While most treatments are clinical-based some skin diseases and conditions can be cured using prescription cream. Those treated by experts and dermatologists include laser and PUVA therapy.
Applying creams is one of the common treatment forms for many skin diseases. Depending on the causal factors, there are various cream products for treating or fading them. These are as follows.
a. Moisturizer creams
Creams with moisturizing quality or ability to lubricate skin ensure that the less pigmented areas do not dry out. Examples of these creams include Aquaphor which is available in drugstores and can also be prescribed by your medical practitioner.
b. Topical antifungal creams
Prescription antifungal creams are recommended for treatment of white spots/patches due to Tinea versicolor. If the infection symptoms are minor individuals can apply selenium shampoos. This product can also be utilized as a washing ingredient. It should be used with a lot of care especially in children.
NOTE: Prior to treatment it is advisable to get a skin test in order to determine whether the actual cause is an overgrowth of fungus.
Antioxidants are also proven to help in reducing white spots in the skin. These are strong products that can strike a balance by reducing the free radicals produced by the body. These radicals cause oxidative stress when the free radicals cause toxicity in the body to rise.
Studies indicate that antioxidant creams can regulate vitiligo symptoms from worsening.
How to fade or lighten them with natural remedies
Learning how to manage various skin conditions is essential. These are a few of the remedies to help reduce the appearance.
Turmeric root and powder
Consumption of turmeric roots is healthy for its nutritional value especially if you have a problem brought about by malnutrition. Turmeric has a powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidizing property.
Alternatively, you can also prepare a home-made pack using the following simple procedure.
Turmeric powder, honey, mustard oil, rice powder or sandalwood paste.
- Add 2tbl spoon of turmeric powder to about 250ml mustered oil.
- Mix to make a paste and apply to the white marks on the skin.
- For added fading effect, use rice powder and massage gently.
- Wash off after it has dried
Repeat this trick regularly especially if you have already seen your nutritionist.
Neem plant leaves
Neem plant is a good reliever for skin problems caused by autoimmune disorders and infections. If you have small spots and don’t know why you need to try out on this remedy.
What you need: Fresh Neem plant leaves and dried leaves/flowers
- Simply grind the dried leaves and take a glass of this mixture every morning.
- Prepare a paste using fresh plant leaves. Wash clean the affected area and apply. After 20 minutes rinse off. Repeat these procedures daily in combination and wait patiently to see if there is a change.
If your child and you are victims of malnutrition, besides seeing your nutritionist, consuming a lot of figs is a good move. In addition, they have an added advantage of purifying your blood and enhance circulation.
Besides consuming figs, you can also prepare a home remedy all by yourself.
Add a few drops of olive oil to 1/2 full glass of dry powdered figs. Then apply to the white skin marks to help fade them away.
Copper has a super ability to enhance your immune system. The theory has it that if you drink fluids like water from a cup or holder made of copper, you double your body’s capability to fight depigmentation. The science bit of it shines a spotlight on increased production of melanin by copper ions.
This clay has a high content of copper. According to, to make use of it, Enkivillage recommends blending the red clay with ginger juice and then applying to the affected area daily.