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White patches are a hallmark of a variety of conditions, including psoriasis, vitiligo, and ringworm. Both internal and external factors can cause white patches. When dealing with white patches not caused by any illness, it is essential to note that an individual may lack Melanin in their skin, resulting in discoloration. When diagnosing the cause of white patches, it is necessary to remember that internal and external factors can affect an individual’s skin colour. White patches can be a symptom of leprosy, but this is rare in the United States. It is also important to note that white patches can be caused by both self-inflicted and non-self-inflicted external factors.
Here are the skin conditions which has white patches:
Psoriasis: Psoriasis is a skin condition that causes red patches of skin with white scales on top. The patches may become thicker and more inflamed over time if the person does not seek treatment.
Eczema: Eczema is a condition that causes red or light-coloured patches of dry, itchy, or cracked skin to appear on the face, neck folds, hands, feet, wrists, ankles, or other body parts. This can lead to significant discomfort for those suffering from this disease and make them feel self-conscious about their appearance due to discoloration of their skin.
Atopic Dermatitis: Atopic dermatitis is also known as eczema and can cause orange or pink patches to appear on the skin. This disease has been known to affect individuals with light skin more than those with darker skin, but it can still occur in both types of individuals.
Vitiligo: Vitiligo occurs when melanocytes (cells that produce pigment) die or are unable to function. This leads to a loss of skin colour in blotches that can affect any area of the body. White patches on the skin usually mark the condition, but these may be shades of pink or brown rather than pure white.
Ringworm: Ringworm isn’t a worm, but a fungal infection often appears as a circular, raised patch with a scaly and swollen border. It can result in ring-shaped lightening of the skin that may have an orangey-pink color due to inflammation around the affected area. These visual symptoms are typically accompanied by itching or burning before they bleed at the patch’s edges if scratched too much.
Tinea Versicolor: Tinea versicolor is a common fungal infection of the skin that can cause white patches to appear on the neck, chest, back, and shoulders due to inflammation and scaling. The fungus doesn’t usually lead to any other symptoms besides the light-colored patch that may blend into your skin tone if you have light or olive-toned skin, but it may be darker than your standard colour if you have dark skin. This is because the fungus sometimes causes an increase in pigment production rather than a decrease.
Pityriasis Versicolor: Pityriasis Versicolor is a fungal skin infection that can also result in white patches on the skin. The condition usually affects the trunk, upper arms, and chest area in areas where your skin comes into contact with more heat and humidity. However, it may affect other parts of the body as well. This condition typically presents itself in a lighter-than-normal color rather than pure white due to high concentrations of brownish-yellow pigment within the affected cells.
Leprosy: Leprosy can cause patches of discolored skin, including patches that are whiter than others (although these aren’t always present). If you have leprosy, there may be small lumps or thickened nerves near the affected area, which can feel like a small stick or pebble under your skin.
Pityriasis alba: Pityriasis alba is a harmless skin condition that causes a loss of pigment in the upper layers of your skin. It may result in white patches on your throat, chest, arms, and legs. The spots associated with this disease are smaller than those caused by vitiligo and aren’t usually as scaly or itchy.
Erythroderma: Erythroderma is a medical term for skin redness that can cause white patches to appear from severe dryness and scaling. The condition affects every layer of your skin, which means it’s more severe than conditions like psoriasis or atopic dermatitis that only affect the topmost layer (the epidermis). This disease does not cause loss of pigment like some other conditions, although it can make your normal skin tone pinker or red-tinged than usual.
Lichen sclerosus: Lichen sclerosus is a skin disease that can cause white patches to appear on any part of your body. However, it typically affects the genitals (inside the thighs and around or in the anus), armpits, mouth, upper chest, or breasts. This condition may be accompanied by itching, pain, irritation, burning sensations, and changes in your everyday skin color if inflammation is present.
Sunspots: Sunspots are age spots that usually appear on areas of your skin exposed to the sun, such as your face, hands, arms, and shoulders. They’re most often grayish-brown or black, tiny spots on the surface of your skin. Sunspots can also be whiter than the rest of your skin tone if they’re under a thinning patch of skin or near an area where hair is starting to grow back in after being removed by waxing or shaving. Most sunspots aren’t harmful and don’t require treatment unless they change color or get more prominent.
Albinism: Albinism affects the production of Melanin in your body and may result in white patches on various parts of your skin, along with very light-coloured eyes and hair.
What are the reasons for white patches?
The common reasons are listed below:
Most often, white patches on the skin are caused by a fungal infection and typically appear in warm, moist areas of your body. As discussed above, you can also get white patches if you’re infected with the human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes flat warts to develop on your skin. White patches may also indicate that you have pityriasis Versicolor caused by a fungus that lives on your skin.
- Autoimmune disorder:
Autoimmune diseases like vitiligo affect your immune system, defying your body against foreign invaders like viruses and bacteria. These diseases cause the body’s immune system to mistake healthy cells for these invaders, destroying them in various ways. Some of the most common autoimmune disorders that can cause white patches on the skin include psoriasis, alopecia areata (patchy hair loss), atopic dermatitis (eczema), and lichen planus.
In some cases, a bacterial infection is responsible for white patches on your skin. This condition is called impetigo and typically affects children who have been in close contact with someone who has chickenpox or another viral infection that can be spread through the air. This type of bacterial infection causes fluid-filled blisters to appear around your nose, mouth, and even buttocks and genitals.
- Sun exposure:
Many people develop a condition called actinic keratosis as they get older. This skin condition can cause scaly white patches to appear on your face, ears, and hands. It occurs when the outer layer of your skin (the epidermis) is exposed to too much sun for too long. Over time, these sun-damaged cells multiply and form what looks like a wart or patch of psoriasis. In most cases, this type of discoloration isn’t harmful and doesn’t require treatment unless it begins itching or becoming irritated.
- Genetic Factors:
The genetic factors are responsible for skin colour. Sometimes if somebody’s skin colour is not very dark or white, they will have this type of discoloration on their skin due to pigment disorder.
Some allergy-related conditions like atopic dermatitis (eczema) and psoriasis can cause lighter patches of skin to develop around your nose, mouth, or eyes. Other allergies that affect the body internally may also cause your throat, breasts, or other parts of your body to turn white in appearance.
- Environmental factors:
In some cases, white patches on your skin can result from burns from the chemicals in detergents or acids from certain household cleaners. Eye drops containing silver nitrate can sometimes cause this type of discoloration around your eyes and mouth. In addition to changing color, these areas may get thicker over time if you continue using the eye drops.
Many hormonal changes can cause white patches on the skin. One such condition is called melasma, which usually develops due to sun exposure and typically affects people who already have darker skin tones.
Toxicity is when the body accumulates or builds up too much of certain substances or waste products. Some examples of these waste products include environmental pollutants, chemicals in household cleaners, and even normal metabolic by-products like urea.
- Melanocyte defects:
Melanocytes are the cells that give color to your skin, so if they malfunction, you can get these whitish patches on the skin. Many factors may cause melanocyte defects like damage due to too much exposure to the sun, genetic mutations, etc.
How to treat white patches?
Most white patches on the skin do not require treatment and will usually go away on their own. However, certain conditions like atopic dermatitis (eczema) and psoriasis may need to be treated with prescription medications to get rid of the white patches. Some of the best treatments are:
It increases cell turnover by speeding up how quickly old cells are replaced by new ones, giving your skin a healthier appearance. Retinoids also work as an anti-inflammatory medication because they help decrease inflammation in the body – which is why they are used to treat psoriasis.
- Tretinoin cream:
It is very effective in treating atopic dermatitis (eczema). It may also be applied for other inflammatory skin conditions caused by the release of certain chemicals in your body that trigger redness, swelling, or skin irritation.
- Chemical peels:
These peels help remove the damaged outer layer of your skin, also known as the epidermis, and generate new cells in its place. This can help fade away patches of white or light brown dead cells appearing on certain parts of your body.
It is a topical lotion that slows down the production of Melanin in your body. It is used to treat conditions where the skin becomes dark and patchy, like freckles, chloasma (also known as melasma), or post inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Hydroquinone can cause side effects that include redness, burning, or irritation of the skin where it has been applied.
- Salicylic acid:
This is a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) that can penetrate deep into the pore and help kill acne-causing bacteria, remove dead skin cells that clog pores, and decrease oil production in your skin. It also has exfoliating properties that can fade away patches of white skin.
- UV treatment:
Ultraviolet (UV) light treatment is also used to remove the damaged outer layer of your skin, making it easier for new cells to regenerate. It can help treat conditions that are caused by too much exposure to UV radiation, like psoriasis.
- Laser treatments:
These lasers emit pulses of intense energy that remove the upper, damaged layers of your skin. The removal of these layers speeds up the growth of new skin cells and can help treat conditions triggered by too much sun exposure.
- Homeopathic treatment for the white patch:
For homeopathic treatment, the patient should take a high-potency dose of Sulphur. This remedy is known to help treat rashes and skin conditions that can be itchy or scaly. Homeopathic treatment treats the root cause of the white patches instead of just treating the symptoms. Homeopathy doctor provides holistic treatment with no side effects. For more information, you can book an appointment through OHO Homeopathy!