Check-up : Dealing with white patches on the skin

July 26, 2016

Dear Readers,

'A' sees a large, white patch on the inside of her thigh on the side where the legs rub together. She asks Check Up what could be causing the mark.

White patches on the skin can be associated with a number of skin conditions, most of which require a doctor to prescribe medication to counter the conditions. White patches can be associated with skin infections, autoimmune disorders or skin allergies. Rarely, skin cancers and pre-cancerous skin conditions can present as white patches. The skin fungus, tinea versicolor, can cause white spots over the skin. This condition is not contagious and is treatable with antifungal medications and solutions.

Another cause of white patches in black people is vitiligo. This is a manifestation of an autoimmune disorder that destroys the melanocytes (cells which produce pigment) in the skin. These patches can come and go, or remain permanently. Commonly, vitiligo is a cosmetic issue and there are several medications and cosmetics in use to reduce and conceal these white patches. Vitiligo is most often seen on the exposed body parts and skin folds and is usually easily diagnosed by a doctor after examination.

Eczema can also cause white skin patches associated with hypersensitivity and allergies. Again, these patches are not serious, but will require an examination by a family physician or a dermatologist to properly diagnose the cause and then recommend the necessary treatment.

White spots can also occur due to malnutrition, which will disappear with a proper balanced diet. There are also white spots which occur in some adults, seemingly as a result of ageing. They are usually seen on skin areas exposed to sunlight. If the white patches are persisting for a long time, then do not delay in seeking the help of a dermatologist.

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