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White Spots On Skin

Dear Doctor

Recently these little white dots have been appearing on my body. There is not a bunch of them and they don’t seem to be appearing in one particular spot. I would say I have about 20 of them scattered on my body. I don’t know what they are, and on 2 of them really stand out on my skin, but I was just wondering if you could help me figure it out?

I don’t know if its vitiligo or a vitamin deficiency…. I am overweight if that’s a helpful factor. I am African American .

white spots on skin

Dear Doctor

Hi, I have a small off white colored spot near my elbow. I’d like to know if it is anything serious … i.e. vitiligo.

I don’t know how long I’ve had it but I’m assuming it’s been there for a while.

Also, I do not have a similar mark on my other elbow. As far as I know, no known family history of vitiligo. Thank you for your help.

white spots on skin

Dear Doctor

I’ve recently started developing white spots on my chest. I’ve applied the following regularly – candid B solution (clotrimazole + beclomethasone), broad spectrum antimycotic anti-inflammatory and antipruritic – but the spots haven’t gone yet.

white spots on skin


Dear Patients

The causes of white spots on skin include:


Vitiligo is an autoimmune disease in which cells from the immune system attack those which produce the skin pigment known as melanin.

To confirm if the white spot are caused by vitiligo, your dermatologist can do a skin biopsy. In this procedure the affected skin is numbed with local anesthesia and the doctor removes a small piece of skin which is sent to the lab to be examined under the microscope.

A skin biopsy helps rule out other causes of white spots on the skin.

white spots on skin

Pityriasis Alba

Pityriasis alba is a skin condition whose exact cause is not known though it is associated with atopic dermatitis.

The diagnosis of pityriasis alba is made clinically after the doctor examines the white patches on the skin which usually develop on the faces and arms of children.

pityriasis alba treatment

Postinflammatory Hypopigmentation

Postinflammatory hypopigmentation is a condition which causes hypopigmented or white spots on the skin after inflammatory conditions like acne, chicken pox and lichen planus.

The diagnosis of postinflammatory hypopigmentation is made clinically after the doctor examines the white spots on the skin which develop on the areas that had the inflammatory condition.

postinflammatory hypopigmentation

Idiopathic Guttate Hypomelanosis

Idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis is associated with white spots which typically develop in the elderly population.

The diagnosis of idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis is made clinically after the doctor examines the multiple white spots which are usually on the calves and shins.

white spots on skin

Pityriasis Versicolor

Pityriasis versicolor is a fungal skin infection which presents are light patches on persons with dark skin.

The  diagnosis of pityriasis versicolor can be confirmed by mixing scrapings of the skin from the affected areas with potassium hydroxide (KOH) and examining it in the lab under the microscope for fungal elements.

pityriasis versicolor

Waardenburg Syndrome

Waardenburg Sydrome is an inherited disorder characterized by a white forelock or patch of white hair and patches of white skin on the body in addition to varying degrees of hearing loss and differently colored eyes.

white spots on skin

Confetti Hypopigmentation

Confetti hypopigmentation is characterized by white spots on the skin which resemble confetti. It can be caused by conditions like tuberous sclerosis or by using medications like hydroquinone.

The diagnosis of confetti hypopigmentation is made clinically after the doctor listens to the patient’s symptoms and examines their skin.

white spots on skin

Progressive Macular Hypomelanosis

Progressive macular hypomelanosis (PMH) usually occurs in young persons, below 35 years of age who develop multiple, round, hypopigmented patches on the back and abdomen. This condition may resolve on its own after several years.

The diagnosis of progressive macular hypomelanosis is made clinically.


Nevus Depigmentosus

Nevus depigmentosus presents as hypopigmented patches that are present at birth. They can be irregularly shaped or have a linear or segmental pattern.

The diagnosis of nevus depigmentosus is made clinically.

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