Pityriasis alba is a skin condition that usually affects children. It is characterized by dry, scaly and patchy skin. Though it might be manifested in the form of pale patches on the cheeks, such patches could also appear on neck, arms and the chest. Since this condition causes skin discoloration or pigmentation, it can sometimes become a cause of cosmetic concern, especially for those who are dark-skinned. Such white patches on skin are more evident in those who have a darker skin, but can sometimes be seen in fair-skinned people. Many a time, this condition is looked upon as a milder form of eczema. Wondering how to make these dry scaly patches of skin disappear? Scroll down to get a basic idea about the treatment options for this skin condition.
Causes and Symptoms of Pityriasis Alba
The exact causes of this skin disorder are still unknown, but it is believed that certain medical conditions could trigger this skin problem. Though this skin condition mainly affects school-going children or teenagers, it might occasionally affect adults as well. This condition is more prevalent in male population. Those who are suffering from skin disorders such as atopic dermatitis, allergic rhinitis and dry skin are more likely to develop dry white patches.
While this skin condition doesn't leave any scars behind, these scaly white spots on the skin might turn red on being exposed to the sun. The lesions become more prominent when the surrounding skin gets tanned due to exposure to the sun. One might also develop white patches, especially when the skin becomes dry during winters. While environmental triggers or medical conditions can make one susceptible to this skin condition, those who wear tight clothing could also develop such dry scaly patches on their body.
This skin problem is viewed as a milder form of eczema, which is why it is believed that the use of perfumed soaps, detergents and other cosmetic products could also cause an outbreak. Stress and smoking could also act as triggers. Many a time, such dry patches of skin are confused with skin conditions such as vitiligo or tinea versicolor. However, vitiligo and tinea versicolor are skin conditions with marked differences.
The difference lies in the appearance of the skin patches. While the vitiligo skin rash is characterized by a distinct border, the patches of skin that develop due to pityriasis alba aren't well-defined. Tinea versicolor is another fungal infection that has similar symptoms too. However, there are ways to diagnose these skin conditions. The differences can be spotted by adding KOH to a part of the skin flakes and examining them under microscope.
Treatment Options for Pityriasis Alba
Once the patches have been examined and doctors have run some tests to rule out other skin disorders, they are in a position to determine the best treatment option. The use of certain medicated creams is definitely recommended as a part of the treatment plan. Since people suffering from conditions such as dry skin, asthma and atopic dermatitis are at an increased risk of developing this skin disorder, they must take all possible precautions.
One of the best skin care tips is to keep your skin moisturized at all times. Use of emollients is generally recommended for treatment of this skin condition. Topical application of a mild steroid cream might be required, if the patches have turned red and itchy. One must refrain from using perfumed soaps, shower gels or other such cosmetic products. Since exposure to sun can cause the white patches to become more prominent, it is best to minimize the exposure to sun. If you need to step outdoors on a sunny day, make sure that you apply a good quality sunscreen with a high SPF.
Wearing broad-rimmed hats will also help. Since permanent pigment loss is not associated with this skin disorder, one need not worry. These patches will resolve on their own in a few months, but these will disappear faster if you apply a steroid cream prescribed by a dermatologist. However, patches might appear again in the presence of triggers. So, the best way to prevent these spots from appearing is to use good quality skin moisturizers and sunscreen. Avoid such situations that might trigger the outbreak. If the symptoms are severe, PUVA (Psoralen and Ultraviolet A) therapy might be recommended for treating this skin condition.
This was a brief overview on pityriasis alba. You can prevent the recurrence of this skin condition by following the aforementioned self-care measures. If the symptoms of this skin condition persist even after following a proper skin care regimen, it would be best to consult a dermatologist.