What are the causes of white patches of skin?

Written by sarah dewitt ince
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White patches on the skin have many different causes depending on the type of patch. Some patches are simply skin without pigment, while others are scaly white spots that indicate some type of infection. Some skin conditions cause white spots to spread to other areas of the body. Treatment options vary, depending on the cause of the patches.


Vitiligo is a skin disease that causes white patches to appear on the skin. The skin gradually loses pigment in several places throughout a person's body resulting in random white patches on the arms, legs and other areas. Vitiligo is not dangerous, but it can be distressing because skin tone looks uneven and this condition is hard to mask. Heavy duty cover creams like Derma Blend are often used to camouflage patches, but daily application can be time consuming.

Tinea Versicolor

According to the Mayo Clinic, tinea versicolor is another cause of white patches on the skin. Tinea versicolor is a yeast infection on the skin that cause the pigment of the skin to become lighter and patchy. In some cases the skin may also look darker. Each case is different, but the treatment is the same. You can treat this type of infection with anti fungal creams and lotions.

Eczema or Skin Conditions

White patches on the skin can also be caused by skin conditions such as eczema. Lawrence E. Gibson, M.D. is doctor and writer for the Mayo Clinic. He says that in general a white patch on the skin is not a cause for concern. Children with allergies tend to have eczema or asthma. The skin can breakout with several red or white patches on the torso, legs and arms. However, eczema can also show up on the face and other areas of the body as well. If the patches are caused by eczema you will notice itching and mild irritation. See a doctor for a proper diagnosis.

Idiopathic Guttate Hypomelanosis

Idiopathic Guttate Hypomelanosis is another skin condition that can cause white patches on the skin. These spots are flat spots that resemble tear drops. These spots can appear as a person grows older, and the cause is unknown. Light therapy and laser treatments are common methods used to treat these spots.

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