Some of the different conditions that cause white spots on the skin are lichen sclerosis, sun spots, Vitiligo, Pityriasis alba, Pityriasis Versicolor, and Milia. These white skin spots appear in different forms either as discolored patches or small hard bumps. When your body stops producing cell generating pigments, white spots will start forming on your skin.

White spots usually appear on your face but they can develop on other parts like your chest, arms, and legs. In this guide, there’s a list of the main causes of white spots as well as treatment options and whether or not you need to consult a dermatologist.

6 Skin Conditions Causing White Spots on Skin

Some of the causes of white spots on your body are harmless while others may lead to health complications. The white spots on your skin may go unnoticeable, others are only visible when your skin tans or you may develop itchy skin. Most of the white spots on your skin aren’t a cause of health concern and you can treat them on your own at home while other persistent ones need you to visit a dermatologist.

Lichen Sclerosus

Cause of Lichen Sclerosus

The reason for lichen sclerosus isn’t definite, however, there are few factors that lead to this condition:

A hormonal imbalance or a hyperactive immune system may cause this condition. Having a recurring skin blemish may also result in the occurrence of lichen sclerosis at the previous spot. One of the myths is that Lichen sclerosis is contagious and can be spread through sexual encounters. Lichen sclerosus can occur in both men and children as well as a majority of women in their post-menopause period. For females, this condition affects the vulva while for males, those uncircumcised are at the most risk since lichen sclerosus majorly affects the foreskin. For children, the symptoms normally get visible during adolescence; however, parents should monitor any skin anomaly.

Risk factors of lichen sclerosus

Here are some of the risk factors of lichen sclerosus: Your genetic background may increase the risk factors of this condition, you need to be aware whether there’s a background of lichen sclerosis within your family. Another factor is a case of autoimmune diseases like alopecia areata, type 1 diabetes, and thyroid disease. Microscopy shows that lichen sclerosis generally results in cell degradation.

Complications of lichen sclerosus

Some of the complications arising as the result of lichen sclerosis include the inability to retract the foreskin, painful sex, constipation, and urinary retention. There is an increased risk of a type of skin cancer known as squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) on parts affected by lichen sclerosus.

Milia the White Bumps on Skin

Milia develops among people of different ages and can usually be confused with whiteheads. If you have Milia, you will notice a tiny round, hard protrusions on your face. Milia form when a protein known as keratin present in your epidermis and other dying skin cells get stuck underneath the surface of your skin. The common body parts affected by milia are the section around your eyes, nose, and cheeks. These white bumps form across all genders. A majority of the disease’ victims are infants, and this complication is commonly referred to as milk spots.

Causes of Primary and Secondary Milia

Generally, milia occur as a result of a build-up of dead skin that gets stuck within pores beneath the skin surface.

Primary Milia Near the Eyes

A small cyst forms when the build-up isn’t expelled naturally. This tiny cyst is known as Primary Milia which develops when you use skincare products around your eyes and it fails to penetrate your skin effectively.

Secondary Milia on Skin

You may also develop secondary milia that develop as a result of a clog within the sweat ducts. There are different reasons for the development of secondary milia like herpes, chemical peels, and laser treatments. Some of the lifestyle reasons for secondary milia include smoking, long use of steroids, poor personal hygiene, lack of sleep and using excess oil-based beauty products.

Treatment of Milia

Most cases of milia fade on their own without medication after a couple of weeks. Dermatologists suggest you avoid piercing or squeezing the white bumps on your own if you have milia. Some of the prevention tips for milia include:

  • Changing your skincare and facial products that may have resulted in the reaction.
  • Stick to an effective skincare plan that includes wearing sunscreen and exfoliation to remove dead skin.

If your milia fail to get better without treatment, here are some treatment options offered by dermatologists:

  • Spreading a retinoid lotion on your face, be careful to avoid your eyes to prevent any irritation.
  • You can go through microdermabrasion a treatment option that eliminates the top layers of the affected part.
  • Use a skin peel, a procedure that gets rid of upper skin layers.
  • Lancing whereby the doctor uses a medical-grade fine needle to eliminate the keratin.

Remember that milia isn’t a harmful skin condition and you won't experience discomfort like stinging or pain. If the white bumps fail to fade on their own or if they interfere with your appearance, visit a dermatologist to have them removed.

Pityriasis Alba, Dry White Patches on Skin Surface

Commonly pityriasis alba is known to fall under eczema. The signs of these conditions include scaly parts on the skin that transform into smooth white patches when the patches are clearing out. You may form many patches on your skin up to 30 or more, these patches form on your arms and face. This condition will be more visible on dark-skinned individuals and after your exposure to the sun. Pityriasis Alba is generally evident among infants and children undergoing puberty, about 5 % of children across the globe develop this skin condition.

Causes of Pityriasis Alba

One of the ways pityriasis alba develops is through a light skin patch that forms after healing from a severe case of dermatitis. Excess use of topical corticosteroids when managing eczema may cause lightening of a patchy rash during the healing process. There are genetic complications that may result in loss of skin color because of the minimized action of melanocytes which is the melanin pigment-producing cell.

Treatment of Pityriasis Alba

Patches of Pityriasis Alba will generally disappear after a few months or they may last for a few years. Dermatologists recommend using steroid/non-steroid cream to treat symptoms of this condition. There is no set treatment for pityriasis alba. Doctors usually try to treat any symptoms of itching or discomfort with a steroid or non-steroid cream. A majority of the cases of Pityriasis Alba fade away as someone grows into adulthood. In case of any discomfort, itchiness or pain visit a doctor for further assistance.

White Patches of Vitiligo on Skin

Vitiligo may happen and may be inherited in individuals of all skin colors. Vitiligo forms like skin patches due to loss of color pigment. It can happen anywhere, including the face, on the body. It impacts about 1 percent of individuals around the world. White patches can start off tiny and sometimes stay like this, but they can also rise slowly until a big portion of the patch is covers your body. A bit of color may recur on the impacted region from time to time but never entirely. This condition develops at any age, however, before their 20s, about 50% of individuals with the condition will develop it.

Causes of Vitiligo

Any individual can suffer from this condition, however, those with a family history of vitiligo has higher chances of developing the condition. The inheritance factor has yet to be explained properly by doctors, so it will not necessarily be developed by the kids of an individual suffering from vitiligo.

In individuals of all skin colors, vitiligo may develop, it is, however, most common on dark complexions. Vitiligo cannot be transmitted from one person to the next. Human skin cells create a pigment known as melanin that provides color to the skin. Some researchers think that vitiligo affects the skin when an antibody forms to fight the melanin on your skin.

Treatment of Vitiligo

Several treatments for vitiligo are available. The type of treatment provided relies on the condition's severity. Individuals suffering from vitiligo should always wear sunscreen and cover up when outside since the sun burns the vitiligo areas more easily. If an individual wishes, they may utilize colored skin lotions to conceal vitiligo regions, and a dermatologist can suggest the best available creams.

In order to help restore missing pigment, the dermatologist may also suggest anti-inflammatory creams like a corticosteroid. However, using corticosteroids for a long time may cause unwanted ill effects, like skin thinning, so physicians may recommend other kinds of anti-inflammatory creams. It is possible to use light artificial oxygen (UV) therapy or phototherapy, often for many months. Laser therapy can be a useful treatment for certain regions of the skin. The development of surgical treatments is not yet widespread practice.

Pityriasis Versicolor (also called tinea versicolor)

Overgrowth of skin yeast may alter its color, resulting in Versicolor pityriasis. Pityriasis Versicolor is a prevalent lighter/darker patches on your skin surface due to a yeast infection. It may develop anywhere on the body, resulting in itching or feeling dry or flaky. There are cases where the spots are small and you will only notice them when your skin tans. Pityriasis Versicolor is discovered more frequently in young adults and adolescents as well as in tropical and subtropical regions. The discolored patches can vanish in the cooler months in temperate environments.

Causes of Pityriasis Versicolor

More than 90 percent of grownups live with a yeast known as Malassezia on their skin surface. It's a natural event and generally does not result in complications. But sometimes the yeast keeps overgrowing. When this occurs, the color of the skin changes, therefore leading to Versicolor pityriasis. This overgrowth can be as a result of a number of variables, including

  • hot and humid conditions
  • a weak immune system
  • Changes in hormones
  • oily skin

There may be pityriasis Versicolor during pregnancy but it is harmless. According to research, during the later phases of pregnancy and right after birth, the yeast that leads to pityriasis Versicolor was more rampant.

Treatment of Tinea versicolor

There are various methods to treat tinea versicolor effectively. These patches may take a few months to get back to their initial color, meanwhile, you should use sun cream to safeguard the skin from the sun. Examples of medicines that can assist are:

  • antifungal lotions and creams and a medicated
  • antifungal body cleanser applied to the skin that will stop the overgrowth of the yeast
  • Doctors recommend antifungal pills if pityriasis Versicolor covers a big region of the body.

It is likely that even after therapy, pityriasis Versicolor may return, particularly if the individual moves to warm and humid environments.

Idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis, also known as sunspots

These conditions trigger flat white spots with a diameter of 1-10 mm. These spots may grow on various areas of the body such as your face, back, arms, and legs The sunspots may develop on the arms, face, shins, and upper back. While they grow most frequently in fair-skinned people, those with dark skin can also develop them. Sunspots are harmless

Causes of Sunspots

Sunspots seem to happen over time in connection with extended sun exposure. However, it is not yet understood why there's a reduction in melanin in the impacted regions. Sunspots appear more often in individuals past 40 years, however, this is mostly as a result of the length of time required to develop the condition. Idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis aka sunspots are white spots on the skin arising from long-term exposure to UV. White spots differ in amount and size, but they are usually round, flat, and between 2 and 5 mm.