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What Can I Do About White Patches on My Face?

Hydrocortisone cream, which may help with white patches.
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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 28 March 2014
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The right treatment for white patches on the skin depends on what caused the skin changes in the first place. If a fungus or rash has caused the white patches, medication may help eliminate them. For other conditions, doctors may use repigmentation or depigmentation, medication, or even surgery to return the skin to its normal coloring.

Some white patches on the skin are caused by a condition called tinea versicolor. This condition causes small patches of whitened skin to form. Tinea versicolor is caused by a fungus and can be treated with antifungul creams and shampoos. Oral antifungal medications may work as well. A person with this condition may start with an over-the-counter medication, moving on to prescription-strength medications if necessary.

Pityriasis alba is another condition that may be responsible for light or whitish patches that form on the skin; no one knows its cause. This long-term condition typically affects children. It causes a light or whitish rash on a person’s face and upper body. Sometimes the rash appears to have flakes or scales.

Usually, the white patches of pityriasis alba go away on their own. This can take a long time to happen, however, and many children will have the rash for months. Applying moisturizers may help to speed the disappearance of the white patches. Hydrocortisone may help as well.

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Some people develop white skin patches because of vitiligo, which is marked by the loss of melanin, the substance that gives skin its pigmentation. When a person has this condition, melanin production comes to a halt and patches of unpigmented skin develop. Unfortunately, these patches may not remain small and contained. Instead, they often gradually enlarge.

A person may attempt to make the white patches of vitiligo less noticeable rather than treating the condition. For example, he may use makeup to make the color of his skin seem more uniform. For those taking this approach, it’s helpful to wear sunscreen and avoid tanning. Tanning can make the unpigmented patches of skin look more pronounced.

Treatment options for people with vitiligo include medicated topical creams that are used to restore pigmentation. Sometimes ultraviolet light therapies, in combination with topical or oral treatment methods, are used to restore coloring. For those with white patches that cover more than 50 percent of the skin, depigmentation treatment may be used instead. This involves applying a bleaching agent to darkened patches of a person’s skin. Surgical options, such as skin grafting, which involves transplanting pigmented skin onto whitened patches, and tattooing may be used to produce a more even skin tone.

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Discuss this Article

donasmrs
Post 7

Is it true that vitiligo is a psychological condition?

I have heard about several people who developed this condition after a sad event or trauma. After my great aunt passed away, for example, my great uncle developed vitiligo and that too overnight!

He has large white patches all over his body now, including his face and hands. I've always wondered how this could happen to him so suddenly. My mom thinks that it's caused by worrying too much and it might get better when the psychological cause is treated.

Is that true?

bear78
Post 6

@Starjo-- Have you ever been to the doctor about it?

I don't mean to scare you but that happened to me a couple of years ago and it turned out that I had a serious fungal infection. My whole body would tan, except for these spots which remained white. The worse part was the spots on my face that became apparent after tanning. I had to use oral and topical medications for several months to get rid of it.

Keeping out of the sun is not enough. You might need to be treated, so I think you should have it checked out by a doctor.

SarahGen
Post 5

@seag47-- Yes, it's possible. Although I don't know what type of fungus it was, my friend got it from her cat. The white patches first appeared on her arms and hands and then on her face. She must have touched her face after holding her cat.

She went to the doctor and was given anti-fungal medication to take. She had to take her cat to the vet too and the cat also took anti-fungal medications at the same time.

She basically hid in her house for a week, but thankfully the patches disappeared after a week and all went back to normal.

Perdido
Post 4

@JackWhack – My cousin has this condition. The fungus is actually yeast, and since he lives in a really humid, warm place, it can grow uncontrollably.

His doctor told him that all he could do was use a special cleanser a couple of times a month to help prevent the patches from showing up. It's a soap that he uses in the shower.

He gets white patches all over his body, and not just on his face. Since he's been using the soap, his complexion has cleared up a bit.

JackWhack
Post 3

@seag47 – I've heard that tinea versicolor is a chronic condition. Imagine having to live with the knowledge that at any time, your white patches could return. There are things that can be done to keep it under control, but you never really get rid of the potential of having a white breakout.

seag47
Post 2

I wasn't aware that it was possible to have a fungus on your face! That's a little scary.

I've had white patches on my throat before, but that is the extent of my experience with them. They just signified that I had strep throat, which can be treated with antibiotics.

A fungus on my face would have been less painful, but it also would have been embarrassing. I hope that this type of fungus responds well to treatment.

StarJo
Post 1

I have had white patches on my arm before, but I've never had them on my face. That would be much harder to deal with, because you can't really cover it up.

I first noticed the patches on my arm after I had been out in the sun and had gotten a slight tan during a weekend at the beach. I couldn't understand why certain little spots on my upper arm did not tan at all.

They were as white as parts of my body that had never seen the sun. Instead of seeking some kind of white patches treatment, I just stayed out of the sun, and I wore really strong sunscreen when I did have to go out in it. As my tan faded, the white spots began to blend in with the rest of my arm.

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