A patchy, white skin on the face is an obvious sign of a skin problem. This happens mainly because of loss of pigmentation in the skin. Special skin cells called melanocytes produce a dark brown pigment called melanin. This pigment gives a specific skin color to every individual. When the pigmentation process gets disturbed due to some reason, melanin production of the facial skin goes down and white patches appear on face.
Causes of White Facial Patches
There are several causes that can lead to formation of whitish patches on face. Some of the common causes are mentioned as follows.
Leucoderma: This is also referred to as vitiligo disease. Here, the size of the patches grows with the passage of time. The causes for this condition are not clearly known to us. In many cases, it has been found to be an autoimmune disorder. In some people, it is hereditary and the disease runs in their family. It can affect people of any age group but are more common in women than in men.
Pityriasis Alba: This is a chronic skin disorder that mostly affects small children. The size of the white patch is usually 1 or 2 cm in diameter, but in some children, it can be as big as 20 cm. The patches usually appear in the winters and the skin tends to become dry and scaly. Its real cause has not yet been found, but it can be triggered by stress, heat, smoke, etc.
Nevus Depigmentosus: In this case, the white patches exist on the skin surface from birth itself. As the child grows, the marks become more and more prominent. It results from abnormal functioning of the melanocytes that leads to low production of skin pigment. The localized skin lesions of nevus depigmentosus are more stable in nature than that of leucoderma.
Idiopathic Guttate Hypomelanosis: This is a genetic disorder and is often associated with aging. It is more common in women above the age of 40. In this condition, the skin becomes thin and the number of melanocytes decrease. As a result, no melanin is produced at all. It gives white spots on face that are small in size and are flat and round in shape. These spots are more visible after prolonged exposure to the sun, when the facial skin turns dark except for those patches.
Other Causes: White patch may develop on facial skin after healing up of any kind of skin injury, for example, physical damage due to accident like burns, some chemical exposure or skin inflammation like acne. Such white scars appear because the injury has damaged some of the pigment producing melanocyte cells so badly, that they fail to produce pigment anymore. Tinea versicolor is not a pigmentation problem but a fungal infection that causes white patches on face. The fungus pityrosporum ovale is responsible for this condition. It is more commonly found in people who live in hot and humid climates.
Treatment for White Patches on Face
Patchy white spots can be found not just on face, but also in various other parts of the body as well. However, these marks on face bother us more because they are easily visible. Therefore, as soon as you discover them, you must contact a dermatologist to ascertain the exact cause behind the problem.
- Leucoderma is treated with oral medicines that contain antioxidants. Then there are medicinal ointments which have to be applied topically on the white spots.
- The patches caused by pityriasis alba in small children can be reduced by regular application of moisturizing cream.
- Treatment for fungal infection involves a good skin care regime that includes cleansing, exfoliating, and moisturizing; along with regular application of antifungal creams on the infected area. Rinsing the face with apple cider vinegar solution also helps to keep this kind of infection under control.
- Damaged melanocytes cells that have stopped producing melanin can also be activated with the help of phototherapy
- Sometimes, laser resurfacing is used to get rid of ugly white spots left behind by skin injury or fungal infection.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.