Are you experiencing the loss of pigment in skin white spots, or you are worried about losing your skin color to white spots? If your answers to these questions are yes, then you should continue reading this article.
A substance known as melanin forms the pigmentation of the skin. Once there is a production of melanin in the skin, it spreads to other nearby cells in the skin, making the skin have a uniform appearance of color in the outside layer of the skin called the epidermis.
However, this uniform color does not only affect the skin appearance but also affects the color of the eye and hair. As humans, we all have different amounts of melanin in our skin. The amount of melanin in the skin depends on the amount of sun exposure and also race.
Because of multiple reasons, our skin can lose pigmentation forming white spots and patches on the skin surface. The loss of pigmentation is known as hypopigmentation. While the loss of pigment in skin white spots can be worrisome, it doesn’t always cause health risks.
So in this article, we are going to look into the causes of loss of pigment in skin white spots. After reading this list, be sure to visit your doctor to find the exact cause of your loss of pigment in skin white spots.
Vitiligo is a skin condition that occurs when a Melanocyte which is a cell that is responsible for producing melanin stops functioning, resulting in the loss of pigment in skin white spots.
This skin condition usually starts as a small pale spot of skin that slowly turns completely white and later develops into a larger patch. While in most people, the patches will remain the same size.
In cases where there are blood vessels under the skin, the vitiligo patch tends to be slightly pink, rather than white. The middle of a patch may appear white, with paler skin around it. Vitiligo can affect all ages and all parts of the body.
The pale areas of the skin affected with vitiligo are usually more vulnerable to sunburn, so it’s advisable to always take extra care when in the sun and use sunscreen that has a high sun protection factor.
In the past, we did articles about vitiligo, its causes, prevention and treatment, and the kind of people affected by vitiligo. Make sure to check them out in order to understand the skin disorder better.
Piebaldism is a condition that causes the lack of cells called melanocytes in specific areas of the skin and hair resulting in the loss of pigment in skin white spots.
Approximately 90 percent of people affected with Piebaldism have a white section of hair near their front hairline. Most times, the skin under their front hairline may also lose pigment as well as eyelashes and the eyebrows.
Piebaldism is present from childbirth and usually runs in families. The skin condition does not just increase in size or number. The loss of pigment in skin white spots is only at increase risk if exposed to sunburn.
Patients should also be educated about self-examination of the skin to detect any sun damage that may increase the risk of being affected with skin cancer.
To be on the safe side, affected individuals must be informed about the use of sunscreens, sun-protective measures, and sun avoidance equipment during the hours of increased UV exposure.
Aside from the above-mentioned, Piebaldism skin condition has no health risk to the affected individual, but some people with piebaldism are self-conscious about the appearance of the white patches, which is visible in darker-skinned individuals.
3. Tinea Versicolor
Tinea versicolor is a fungal infection of the skin which tampers with the normal pigmentation of the skin, changing the affected skin part to small, discolored white patches and in rare cases, darker patches.
This skin condition happens when there is out of control growth of a natural yeast found on the skin called Pityrosporum Ovale which then starts to change the coloration of the skin, causing the loss of pigment in skin white spots.
There are different factors that cause Tinea versicolor which include; weakened immune system, oily skin, hormonal changes, hot weather, and excessive sweating.
Tinea Versicolor is more common in teenagers and young adults and it frequently occurs in adults when they visit warm and humid climates. Tinea versicolor is not painful or contagious but due to sun exposure which makes Tinea Versicolor clearly visible, it can lead to emotional distress or self-consciousness.
Tinea versicolor can be treated with Antifungal medications and Antifungal creams which are often good in the removal of patches or spots. But even after successful treatment, skin color may not be smooth for several weeks or months.
In order to prevent Tinea Versicolor from returning after treatment, your doctor may prescribe a skin or oral treatment. Depending on your level of Tinea versicolor, your doctor may advise you to use these medications just during warm and humid months.
4. Lichen Sclerosus
Lichen Sclerosus is a chronic inflammatory skin disorder that causes the loss of pigment in skin white spots. It is a long-term skin condition most common in women before puberty or after menopause and usually affects the skin of the genitals or the area around the anus.
In rare cases, it can also affect men and children. When Lichen Sclerosus is found in males, the disease is known as balanitis xerotica obliterans.
Sometimes, Lichen Sclerosus is accompanied by intense itching, burning, and pain. If the disease is severe, even minor abrasions can lead to skin tearing and bleeding.
Recent research shows that Lichen Sclerosus is caused by a combination of a dysfunction of the immunological system as well as genetic factors. Hormonal imbalances are also suspected factors that may cause Lichen Sclerosus as well as an overactive immune system.
It is also worth mentioning that The condition is not contagious and cannot be contracted through sexual intercourse. Currently, there’s no cure for Lichen Sclerosus but symptoms can be controlled with the use of steroid creams and ointments. When used accurately, the creams usually help ease the symptoms entirely.
Multiple studies have shown that regular use of potent topical steroids in women prevents the problems of scarring and also decreases the risk of skin cancer developing in the areas of Lichen Sclerosus.
5. Halo Moles
Halo Moles or Halo Nevus is another skin disorder that can cause the loss of pigment in skin white spots. A halo nevus is a regular brown or pink mole surrounded by a circular white ring of patches.
For unclear reasons, the immune system attacks the pigment cells in the mole, researchers aren’t sure why this happens but it is believed that the immune system sees the mole as harmful in some way.
The reaction of this attack affects the normal skin around the mole, which also has pigment cells in it, causing the pigment to fade and eventually disappear, which leads to the loss of pigment in skin white spots.
Halo moles are most common in children and young adults, and can also appear at any age. It can affect any part of the body, but they are usually common on the chest, back, and abdomen.
You might have one or more moles at the same time and your halo nevus may look different depending on how long you have had it.
Most times, these moles are always benign, which means they can’t lead to skin cancer. Although the lack of pigment around the mole makes the skin more vulnerable to sunburns, which can increase your risk of skin cancer. So it is advisable to apply sunscreen to the affected part of your skin whenever you are outside for more than 15 minutes.
No treatment is needed to cure Halo moles, It usually takes a while, and eventually fades away on its own, with your skin pigmentation returning to its usual color. It’s very important to see a dermatologist for an accurate diagnosis.
6. Idiopathic Guttate Hypomelanosis
Idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis is another skin disorder that causes loss of pigment in skin white spots. It usually affects the skin on the shins, arms, upper back, and face and it’s common in light-skinned people than dark-skin people.
The size of damaged skin varies from 1-10mm, but is most commonly 1-3 mm in diameter. The spots are not harmful and are thought to be brought on by sun exposure, which kills melanocyte cells in the skin.
Idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis often begins as a result of skin aging, usually appearing in people around the age of 40 or older. Other factors that can cause the condition include; Chronic sun exposure, genetic factors, trauma, and autoimmune factors.
Idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis usually does not require treatment apart from sun protection which is recommended to reassurance the harmless nature of the skin condition. Topical steroids, creams, and dermabrasion can as well be used to reduce the loss of pigment in skin white spots.
7. Pityriasis alba
Pityriasis alba is a skin disorder that is usually found in children and young adults, first characterized by pale pink or red, scaly patches on the skin. After the patches clear up, the affected skin is left discolored, causing loss of pigment in skin white spots.
The cause of pityriasis alba is unknown, although the condition is believed to be associated with a certain type of eczema, because of that, an excessively active immune response is a suspected factor that causes Pityriasis alba.
Several patches may occur at once and they usually appear on the face and arms. The lesions are very noticeable in patients that have darker skin. The duration of the patches is varied and sometimes they last for several months to over a year.
There is no treatment required for removing pityriasis alba because the patches usually go away over time, with some cases disappearing during adulthood.
Light-skinned Patients will notice the rash more frequently than dark-skinned patients during the summer period as their skin tans. To ease the itching, dryness, and redness associated with pityriasis alba, your doctor will often prescribe a steroid or non-steroid cream.
8. Nevus Depigmentosus
Another skin condition that causes the loss of pigment in skin white spots is Nevus Depigmentosus also referred to as Nevus Achromicus.
Nevus Depigmentosus is characterized by a focal nonprogressive hypopigmentation white patch that remains stable in its shape and distribution all through the patient’s life. The size growth is typical in proportion to the overall body growth of the patient.
Nevus Depigmentosus is a common birthmark that usually appears within the first few years of life, usually before 3 years after birth. Although there are cases where the condition appears later in childhood, it is difficult to determine whether the lesions had been present before their discovery because of the absents of color contrast in babies with untanned skin.
In most cases, patients have just one white patch, although there have been reports of patients having more than one patch even as many as ten patches. Sometimes it is advisable to perform other diagnoses in cases where there are numerous patches.
Most times, people assume Nevus Depigmentosus to be Vitiligo, although they look similar, they have different characteristics. White patches in vitiligo disorder are depigmented, whereas patches in nevus Depigmentosus are hypopigmented.
9. Progressive macular hypomelanosis
Progressive macular hypomelanosis (PMH) is a common pigmentary skin disorder resulting in the loss of pigment in skin white spots.
PMH is characterized by several hypopigmented macules and patches that primarily affect the abdomen and the lumbar region. It is very rare to see the skin disorder extend to the neck, arms, legs, and proximal limbs.
PMH affects mostly adolescents and young adults, particularly females aged 13-38 years. It also affects all populations worldwide, but it is commonly seen in tropical regions and in darker skin patients.
Several reports have proven that the course of progressive macular hypomelanosis is variable. Most cases may resolve in three to five years, while others remain stable and some progress over decades and may then resolve in middle age from the age of 40 years.
The cause of progressive macular hypomelanosis is yet unknown. The acne bacteria called Cutibacterium acnes have been found in hair follicles of loss of pigment in skin white spots areas and this may be the cause of the loss of color in that area.
The Treatments of progressive macular hypomelanosis can be performed with Topical anti-acne preparations, for example, clindamycin, and benzoyl peroxide.
Other Treatments of progressive macular hypomelanosis include; Narrowband UVB phototherapy, Oral tetracyclines, or a combination of all the treatments. The condition may reoccur or relapse following the treatment.
10. After Wound Scar
Pigment loss after skin damage, such as a significant burn, may cause loss of pigment in skin white spots after healing. Post-inflammatory hypopigmentation is a loss of usual skin color after your skin heals from an injury.
This is often more noticeable in darker-skinned people because of the contrast with their normal skin color. The size, shape, and areas affected depend on how badly the melanocytes were damaged.
If there is enough damage, it can partially or completely destroy melanocytes, which is the cell that produces the pigment of the skin, resulting in decreased pigmentation in that area of the skin.
The preventive measure of after wound healing scar is caring for wounds during the healing process with a scar treatment, oil to help repair the skin or conceal it with a tailored product.
If the discoloration affects only a few areas of the skin, and you are sure you don’t have any underlying skin problem, no treatment is needed. In mild cases, the skin color restores the lost pigment on its own.
In the case where you have an underlying skin problem, the treatment depends on the diagnosis and cause of the damage, and you might need to have a portion of your skin taken and checked under a microscope to identify the exert cause of the loss of pigment in skin white spots.
Albinism is a genetic condition where affected individuals are born without the usual pigment color in their bodies. People born with albinism inherited an albinism gene or genes from their family.
This gene-related condition is a result of the body of the affected person not being able to produce a significant amount of melanin, the chemical in the body that is responsible for the color of the skin, eye, and hair.
Signs of albinism are commonly present in the individual’s skin, eye, and hair color, but sometimes differences are slight.
Because albinism is present at childbirth and results in no skin color at all, it’s pretty easy to determine the condition even without a diagnosis.
There is no treatment for albinism, but regular skincare and prevention of skin cancer must be taken by albino patients. This includes visiting the hospital to receive an annual skin assessment to screen for skin cancer or damaged tissues that may lead to cancer.
Eczema is another skin condition that causes the loss of pigment in skin white spots. Eczema also called atopic dermatitis, is a regular skin condition that causes itchy and inflamed patches of skin. Most times white spots can form around the red rashes.
This condition is commonly found in babies, teens, and can continue into adulthood. The main symptoms of eczema include; itchy, rough, dry, flakey, inflamed, and irritated skin.
Eczema can appear in any part of the body but commonly affects the arms, backs of the knees, inner elbows, and face. The skin condition is not contagious, and in most cases, becomes less severe as one ages.
The cause of eczema is not clearly known. But experts believed eczema is been triggered by an overactive immune system that has an aggressive response when exposed to irritants.
Sometimes, Eczema is also believed to be caused by an unusual response to proteins in the body. The immune system usually ignores proteins that are part of the human body to attack only the proteins of invaders, such as proteins from viruses and bacteria.
Because there is a presence of Eczema in the body, the immune system fails in the ability to understand the difference between the proteins that are part of the human body and the proteins from invaders, this failure results in inflammation.
Those are not ALL of the skin conditions that can cause the loss of pigment in skin white spots, but it’s most of them. Others are very rare and require a lot of professional explanation which are better suited to residency training in dermatology, so we left them out of the list.
It is worthy of mentioning that you could have more than one of these skin conditions listed above at the same time. So it is very important to visit your doctor and know which is which, so that your dermatologist can determine when and how to treat them.
Most of the loss of pigment in skin white spots is not a major cause for concern. Still, it’s advisable to see a doctor or dermatologist for a diagnosis, most especially if the loss of pigment in skin white spots spread or don’t respond to home remedy treatment after a couple of days or weeks.
Now you can your dermatologist with the knowledge you have gotten from this article, which will help both of you figure out what your loss of pigment in skin white spots are, and how best to treat them.