White patches on the skin are rather common findings in dermatology. Many of you might be wondering if there is any serious skin condition to be concerned about. In this article we’ll discuss about most common causes of white patches on the skin and their treatment options in brief.

There are several numbers of causes that can cause skin discoloration. Some of those are easy to treat while few conditions are difficult to treat. Most common causes of white patches on the skin are discussed below.

Tinea Versicolor:
Also known as pityriasis versicolor commonly present as hypo or hyper pigmented scaly lesion usually seen on chest, back, abdomen and proximal extremities. Less commonly it can be see in face, scalp and genitalia. Tinea Versicolor eruption is most commonly during summer months.

Several topical medications have been used with great success. Most commonly used is 2.5% selenium sulfide (Selsun) shampoo, which can be applied daily for 1-2 weeks, wash off after 10 minutes. To prevent recurrence, it can be applied 1-2 times a month for several months. Several other topical medications like ciclopirox zinc Pyrithione, ketoconazole, terbinafine and sulfur preparations are equally effective in treating tinea versicolor. Oral intraconazole 200mg once a day for 7 days is also effective. You should remember that the white patches might take time to resolve and it’s not the sign of treatment failure.

Vitiligo lesion is usually depigmented white patches surrounded by hyper-pigmented or normal border. Most common sites are face, upper part of chest, groin, genitals, mucous membrane, extensor surface, axilla but it can occur at any area of skin.

Vitiligo is rather difficult to treat. Several treatment modalities are available but the response is slow and not satisfactory. Topical corticosteroids, calcipotriol and topical immunomodulators like tacrolimus have been tried with some success rate.

For extensive disease systemic immunosuppressive drugs have also been tried. PUVA therapy which includes topical or oral 8-methoxypsoralen with ultraviolet A (UVA) radiation (320 to 400 nm) seems effective in treating vitiligo. Narrowband Ultraviolet B radiation is another option for treating vitiligo and most effective in treating extensive generalized cases of vitiligo.

Other conditions that can cause white patches on the skin care:

  • B12 deficiency
  • Pityriasis Alba
  • Post-inflammatory hypo pigmentation
  • Lichen sclerosus et atrophicus
  • Psoriasis
  • Nevus depigmentosus
  • Idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis

If you are confused and worried about the white patch on your skin, consult your dermatologist. If you have any questions regarding white patches on the skin ask us at our skin care forum.