Tinea versicolor is the overproduction of yeast that occurs naturally on everyone's skin. It is not contagious. On untanned skin, the yeast patches may not be visible at all or look light pink or brown, and may have very minor flakes. The yeast acts as a natural sunblock, so when skin tans, it can appear as white spots or patches.
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People who suffer from several types of psoriasis have skin cells that develop much faster than normal skin cells, which causes the flaky appearance of their psoriatic patches. The new skin that is rapidly growing in these patches may not have developed pigmentation yet, so those areas may cause white spots when tanning even after the psoriasis has gone away.
Vitiligo is a condition where areas of the skin have no pigment cells or the pigment cells have been completely destroyed. When the skin around these areas tan, the spots and patches will appear completely white. These spots will never tan because the skin requires pigment cells to become tan.
Scars and blocked hair follicles may cause white spots when tanning because the skin is thicker in the affected area. Some medications can also cause spots that won't tan. Skin that has experienced a major sunburn can also lose pigment and appear as white spots when tanning.
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