White spots on the skin can be caused by both environmental, as well as genetic factors. Several skin diseases and pigmentation disorders can cause the development of white spots on the skin, which is medically termed as leukoderma. These spots are usually caused by the loss of pigmentation, and they can appear on any part of the body. The pigment melanin, which gives color to the skin is produced by a type of specialized cells, known as melanocytes. White spots appear when melanocytes cannot effectively produce melanin, while hyperpigmentation occurs, when the production of melanin increases.
Causes of White Spots
Several factors and skin conditions can cause the appearance of white spots on the skin. Vitiligo, pityriasis alba, tinea versicolor, and idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis are some conditions that can cause the development of white spots. In Vitiligo, the melanin producing cells of the skin die or fail to function properly. The result is a loss of pigmentation and the development of white skin patches. Pityriasis alba is the skin condition, which can cause the development of round or oval white spots. This skin condition is common in children and teenagers with dark skin.
Idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis on the other hand, is a genetic disorder that causes depigmentation and the development of small white spots on the skin, while tinea versicolor is a fungal infection characterized by white skin patches with flaking. Apart from these, many people have been observed to develop white spots after a visit to the tanning salon or after using tanning beds. The use of birth control pills, as well as certain other medications can increase the sensitivity of the skin to light, which can cause uneven tanning and the resulting white spots.
Treating White Spots
Some types of white spots are easy to treat, while others can be quite difficult to get rid of. In general, topical creams and ointments are recommended by physicians for treating this skin problem, while oral medications are used for severe and widespread white spots. Steroid creams are usually employed for the treatment of vitiligo and idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis. On the other hand, spots caused by tinea versicolor can be treated with antifungal creams or ointments.
Phototherapy and exposure to sunlight is another treatment option available for this skin condition. Exposure to sunlight can stimulate the melanin producing cells, which in turn, can restore normal pigmentation of the skin. On the other hand, white spots caused by tanning or excessive exposure to sunlight can be prevented by applying a good sunscreen lotion on the skin before going out in the sun.
Other treatment options for white skin spots include, laser therapy and surgical treatment. Surgical treatment usually involves the removal of the affected skin. Nowadays, it is also possible to transplant melanocytes, the skin cells that produce melanin from other parts of the body. This is sometimes used for the treatment of white spots caused by vitiligo.
Home Remedies for White Spots
Sometimes, simple home remedies can also help get rid of white spots, some of which are described below:
- Ginger juice or a paste of ginger can be applied on the white spots, which can help increase blood circulation to the affected areas.
- Walnuts are known to be a natural cure for leukoderma.
- Like walnuts, figs can be consumed regularly to get rid of white skin spots and patches.
- Apply black gram powder on the affected area. It can help restore the natural pigmentation or color of the skin.
- You can also use cabbage juice to get rid of mild skin discoloration. Cabbage juice can be consumed, as well as applied topically on the affected area.
- Drink water kept in a copper vessel for the whole night.
- Drink a mixture of alfalfa and cucumber juice in the morning and the evening for a couple of months.
- Make a paste by combining 1 tablespoon honey with ½ teaspoon each of rice powder, turmeric powder, and sandalwood powder. Apply the paste on the affected area, leave it for about 10 minutes, and then rinse it off with cool or lukewarm water.
- Drink buttermilk regularly, which is thought to be beneficial for conditions like vitiligo.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for professional medical advice.