White Spots on Skin

Appearance of white patches on skin have become a serious skin problem. In most of the cases these occurs due to the loss of pigmentation in skin. There are many skin conditions or pigmentation disorders which causes skin spots. Normally majority of the people get these white skin spots on any on one or more parts of the their body but they do not know what are the real things about these skin spots. These white spots affecting millions of population from any races and both sexes. Actually this post is a brief discussion about the skin conditions which causes the white spots on skin, what are the causes of these spots and how these skin conditions can be treated.


Pigmentation is process of skin coloration. Melanocytes are the special skin cells which produced pigmenting substance called Melanin. It is dark brown substance responsible for the skin for specific coloration of a person. Normally most of the spots or blotches either white or dark occurs due to the pigmentation problems of skin.


Vitiligo is a loss of pigmentation disorder in which white patches appear on the skin. It is not contagious condition. But people with vitiligo has to suffer emotional distress due to this depigmentation resulting in skin white patches problem in their skin.

Symptoms: Sunburn and the white patches on skin are the common symptoms of vitiligo. However an special device name wood lamp are used by the dermatologist to diagnose vitiligo.

Vitiligo Causes: The causes of the vitiligo are not fully known. Auto-immunity is the most prominent causes of the vitiligo. Second thing is Inheritance, it have also a minor contribution in vitiligo skin condition, some cases has been found in which vitiligo runs in families.

Nevus Depigmentosus
Nevus depigmentosus is also a depigmentation problem in skin but can be easily differentiated from vitiligo. Although age factor has not much involvement in the Nevus depigmentosus but in about 19% of the cases these are noted at birth. Their size may however grow in proportion to growth of the body. The distribution is also fairly stable and are nonprogressive  hypopigmented patches.
These are localized white spots on skin which may affect any area of the body, but these skin white spots are quite stable lesions.
They result from abnormalities in the function of melanocytes which produce little pigment thereby resulting in characteristic white spots in skin.

Idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis

Idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis occurs due to the disturbance in the pigmentation process of the skin and it is an genetic disorder. The depigmentation of guttate hypomelanosis is also important because it may be mistaken for other cause of disturbed pigmentation like vitiligo.

Idiopathic guttate hupomelnosis is also a reason behind the white spots on the skin. Normally it occurs when due to the reducing in the thickness of skin, number of melanocytes cell are reduced. Biopsies of the affected skin have shown skin cells with no melanin.

These spots observed more obviously after tanning when the surrounding skin become more darken. These are small (2-5 mm), rounded and flat spots of lighter color in the skin which are sometimes referred to as white spots on skin. It usually occurs due the prolong exposure of the skin to the sun or to the tanning bed. It normally occur on the parts like shins and the forearms, but other parts of the body may also be affected like the chest, shoulders and the face.

These white spots on skin are generally smooth but mildly scaly lesions may also be seen in some cases.

Guttate hypomelanosis is not considered to be a precancerous disease, not more dangerous and harmless depigmentation.


Normally it is assumed that there is no cure for this form of white spots or treatment is usually difficult and may sometimes leave a residue, which is worse than the original problem. It is however a benign condition and treatment may only be required for cosmetic and emotional reasons. Because the exposure to the sun is a causative factor there for patient should take care when he has to go out specially in extreme sun hours.
It is generally enough to cover up the lesions with a camouflage make-up, the following may also be tried.
Topical Steroids
Surgical and semi-surgical correction

It is more common in men than in women, and it normally affects those who have crossed the age of 40 years. People with a fair skin are more common to be affected by it but those with a darker skin are not immune.

The word idiopathic shows that the cause is unclear. It has however been associated with the aging process. This so-called aging of skin is assumed to be accelerater by sun exposure, inheritance and seborrhoeic keratoses.

White scars and hypopigmentation

Some time scars from any injury may leave a white spot on skin after healing, and look as it
is vitiligo. Whether an injury will leave a white or a colored scar depends on the type of injury and the extent of damage to the pigment producing cells of the skin, the melanocytes. If the melanocytes are lost, or functionally impaired, a scar is likely to have a faulty pigmentation on healing.
Depigmented or white scars can result from any injury, physical, chemical or inflammatory e.g. acne.
White scars can usually be identified easily because the history of an injury or insult can be traced to and linked with their appearance.
White scars can usually improve with local psoralen therapy. Laser resurfacing of skin may also be attempted if psoralen and PUVA fail.

Pityriasis Alba
A chronic skin disorder, the white spots on skin due pityriasis alba are a common skin problem of the children. The lighter spots of hypo or depigmentation are dry with fine scales and mostly affect the face, and may easily be mistaken for vitiligo. They may occasionally appear on other parts of the body as well.

It is a self limiting problem but moisturizer creams can facilitate the healing process. In very severe cases, local Psoralens therapy with or without laser may be tried for it.

Boys are more commonly affected by Pityriasis Alba than the girls. These white spot on skin are more frequently seen in winter because of the dry weather.
No specific cause has been discovered, but the activity of melanocytes has been found to be sub-normal with fewer and small melanosomes. Heat, humidity, smoke and stress may also cause to these white spots. The child usually presents with small 50 to 200 mm lesions on the face, but they can be as large as 20 cm, and may affect other parts of the body as well.

Tinea Versicolor

Tinea versicolor causes white spots but it is not a pigmentation disorder but a fungal disease. It is not causes burning when these spots are exposed to sun.

Now some terms regarding the skin spots problems and related to this talk.


A disturbance in skin pigmentation process or some time refer as pigmentation loss of skin. It is occur when the production of melanin skin decreased from a certain level. Depigmentaion causes on certain part causes the white spots on that skin part.


It occurs when the production of melanin increase in the skin. It normally caused by the prolong exposure of skin to the sun. Dark spots appear due to the hyper-pigmentation in skin.