What is that white spot on my child’s face?

Pityriasis alba is a harmless skin condition that appears as hypopigmented (or lighter) patches on the face or arms mainly in children.  Sometimes mild redness and fine scaling are seen with this condition as well.  It is thought to be a low-grade type of eczema and those with eczema or atopic dermatitis are more prone to this condition.

Pityriasis alba may include some redness and scaling over the winter months thought to be from environmental dryness.  The condition often becomes more visible in the spring or summer once sun exposure occurs in the affected areas allowing the surrounding skin to tan and the patches of pityriasis alba to remain light.  The patches are usually round, oval or irregular in shape often on the cheeks or upper arms of the patient. The duration of this condition can last from months to years.  The loss of pigment with this condition is not permanent and usually goes away spontaneously and does not always require treatment.

Treatment for pityriasis alba consists of the use of gentle products to give moisture back to the skin.  A mild cleanser is recommended as well as the use of an emollient cream or lotion to the affected areas to improve the dry appearance.  A mild topical steroid or other topical prescription medications can be helpful in improving pityriasis alba. Of course, sun protection is also recommended to minimize the pigmentation discrepancy and to protect the lighter skin from sunburn too.

To see me for your Dermatologic issues or skin cancer screenings please contact me, Amy Hahn, PA-C at our Lansdale, PA office of the Dermatology and Skin Cancer Institute.

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