A single copy of this article may be reprinted for personal, noncommercial use only.
White patch on skin: A cause for concern?By Mayo Clinic staff
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/white-patch-on-skin/AN01501
- With Mayo Clinic dermatologist
Lawrence E. Gibson, M.D.read biographyclose window
Lawrence E. Gibson, M.D.Lawrence E. Gibson, M.D.
Dr. Lawrence Gibson likens bad health information on the Internet to food poisoning.
Consumers, he says, need to be aware and will find reliable information at MayoClinic.com.
Dr. Gibson, a Covington, Ky., native, has been with Mayo Clinic since 1986 and is board certified in dermatology, dermatopathology and immunodermatology. He is a professor of dermatology at Mayo Medical School and a consultant in the Department of Dermatology.
Dr. Gibson has served as the fellowship director for dermatopathology and as chair of the Laboratory Division in the Department of Dermatology. He is especially interested in inflammatory disorders of the skin, including vasculitis, and in lymphoma affecting the skin.
"Electronic information has become a staple in the diet of a health conscious society," he says. "It's important to avoid misinformation and provide a credible source for health information. Using this analogy, it's critical to avoid 'indigestion' or, worse yet, 'food poisoning' by the ingestion of tainted information."
- White patch on skin: A cause for concern?
Lifestyle and home remedies (1)
- Eczema bleach bath: Can it improve my symptoms?
White patch on skin: A cause for concern?
Several months ago, my son developed a small white patch on the skin of his arm. It appears to be getting larger. Is a white patch on skin anything to be concerned about?
from Lawrence E. Gibson, M.D.
Generally, a white patch on skin isn't cause for concern.
Skin discoloration can be triggered by a number of causes.
- Eczema. Sometimes a small area of skin becomes irritated or develops mild eczema, which results in a patch of skin that's lighter in pigment than is the skin around it. This is particularly common in children who have allergies, asthma or eczema. Your son's doctor may recommend applying moisturizer to the affected skin and avoiding harsh or drying soaps.
- Superficial yeast infection. Another possible cause of a white patch on skin is a superficial yeast infection (tinea versicolor), which may cause the skin to look either lighter or darker than normal. In this case, treatment may include antifungal creams or shampoos.
- Other skin diseases, including psoriasis and vitiligo, also may cause a light or white patch on skin or other discoloration. Treatment focuses on controlling the length of flare-ups and minimizing effects.
When to see a doctor
Consult a dermatologist for an evaluation:
- If the white patch on your son's arm continues to enlarge
- If additional white patches appear in other places
Eczema bleach bath: Can it improve my symptoms?
- Berger TM. Dermatologic disorders. In: McPhee SJ, et al. Current Medical Diagnosis and Treatment 2011. 50th ed. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill; 2011. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=748. Accessed Oct. 26, 2010.
- Psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. American Academy of Dermatology. http://www.aad.org/public/publications/pamphlets/common_psoriasis.html. Accessed Oct. 26, 2010.
- Questions and answers about psoriasis. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Psoriasis/default.asp. Accessed Oct. 26, 2010.
- Morelli JG, et al. Skin. In: Hay WW Jr, et al. Current Diagnosis and Treatment: Pediatrics. 19th ed. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill; 2009. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=3400878&searchStr=eczema. Accessed Oct. 26, 2010.