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White Patches On The Skin

What are the common causes of white skin patches?

White patches on the skin are a common problem among adolescents. Common causes are:

Antara sebab berlakunya tompok putih pada kulit ialah:

  • Pityriasis alba:
    • The cause is unknown
    • Commonly seen in children and adolescents with dry skin
  • Pityriasis versicolor (‘panau’) :
    • The cause is unknown
    • A superficial skin infection caused by overgrowth of the fungus called pityrosporum orbicular
    • Commonly seen in adolescents who sweat profusely
    • This infection recurs easily

There are other causes of white patches. If you want to know more, consult your doctor.


How do these conditions show up?

Pityriasis alba:

  • Patches commonly seen on the face especially on the cheeks
  • It also occurs on the neck, upper limbs and trunk
  • Scales are fine and adherent

Pityriasis versicolor:

  • Patches commonly seen on the upper part of the back and on the chest
  • It might change in colour to black or red patches
  • Often merges together into big blotches
  • It may be associated with itchiness

How can one treat these conditions?

Pityriasis alba

  • Usually no treatment needed because eventually the patches will disappear
  • Use moisturizers
  • Your doctor might give you a mild topical steroid to apply

Pityriasis versicolor :

  • Apply selenium sulphide shampoo to the entire body and rinse off after 30 minutes every day for a week
  • You can also apply ketoconazole shampoo for 5 minutes once a day for 5 days
  • Your doctor might give you antifungal drugs if the condition is severe

How can one prevent recurrence?

Pityriasis versicolor:

  • You can use selenium sulphide shampoo or ketonazole shampoo weekly to prevent recurrence

Last Reviewed : 27 April 2012
Content Writer : Dr. Salmiah bt. Md. Sharif
Reviewer : Dr. Sabeera Begum bt. Kader Ibrahim