When you hear of pigmentation and skin spots, you might imagine marks on your skin that are darker than your skin tone. But spots can also be lighter in colour, which is commonly referred to as “white spots.”
What causes white spots to appear on your skin? Here’s what you need to know about where they come from and how to eliminate them.
Common Causes of White Spots
Fungus. If you live in a humid region, white spots could be a result of fungus called tinea versicolor. Everyone has yeast that grows on their skin but humidity stimulates its growth. If tinea versicolor is the culprit of your white spots, they will most likely be dry, flaky and sometimes itchy. Your doctor will prescribe you a cream to eliminate it but you can also self-treat with a cream containing sulfur or selenium. It’s important to stay out of the sun to give your skin a chance to heal as UV exposure can make the white patches more pronounced.
Ageing. Another cause of white spots is from natural ageing. These spots, known as asidiopathic guttate hypomelanosis, are flat and up to five millimetres in diameter. However, sun exposure can make them worse and you’ll tend to see them appear in areas that receive lots of exposure to the rays such as your hands, shoulders and face.
UV Exposure. Brown spots on your skin are commonly caused by exposure to the sun, which accelerates melanin production. Interestingly, a white spot on skin can also be attributed to sun exposure. However, instead of making melanin, the skin stops producing melanin altogether in this area of skin due to sun damage. The result is a paler, white spot (or group of spots) known as hypopigmentation.
Autoimmune Conditions. Don’t confuse white spots with a condition known as vitiligo. This is when your body stops producing melanocytes, due to an autoimmune disease, causing white spots to appear. These could spread to larger patches affecting your entire body. Treating vitiligo includes the use of creams and sunscreen to protect the skin from further damage as well as evening out your skin tone. However, it’s wise to consult with your doctor who might also prescribe topical corticosteroid creams and immunomodulators that will regulate the body’s immune system.
Treatment: Should You Get a Tan?
If you have some white spots on your skin, you might assume the best way to deal with them is to get a tan to make every part of your skin the same shade. But this isn’t going to help. Instead, tanning will make the problem worse! Since your skin isn’t producing any melanin, it won’t be able to tan. You will be left with an even bigger contrast between your tanned skin and the white spots. In addition, getting a tan damages your skin, so it's not worth the risk.
Treatment: Lighten Up Your Skin
A better option is to lighten your skin so that you can create less contrast between the white spots and the rest of your skin. This is also great for removing any darker spots that can sometimes be present, too. Skin whitening creams give you a brighter, even tone that will make your skin look much healthier all over.
Of course, to keep it that way, you should always wear sunscreen. This is important when lightening your skin because skin whitening creams often contain melanin-blockers, such as soy and liquorice, that inhibit melanin so your skin becomes more susceptible to the sun’s harmful UV rays.
Treatment: Top up on Vitamin B
Sometimes a vitamin deficiency can cause white spots to appear on your skin. This is especially the case if you’re lacking Vitamin B12. Therefore, it’s important to eat a diet that is rich in B12, such as fortified cereals, dairy and meat. Since Vitamin B12 is only found in animal sources, you need to ask your doctor about a supplement if you are vegan.
There are many reasons for a white spot on skin but you can treat spots by spending less time in the sun and paying attention to your diet. Lightening creams are a great treatment to even out your skin tone and replenish your beautiful complexion.