Possible causes of white spots
While a loss of pigmentation can be worrying, it isn’t always a cause for concern. Take a look at some of the most common causes of white spots and be sure to visit a doctor to discover the exact cause of yours. There are many reasons white spots can occur and only a professional can diagnose your specific concern.
Hypopigmentation is usually a harmless condition but it is difficult to treat. However, some specialized creams, topical treatments, laser treatments or prescription medications recommended by a doctor or dermatologist, can help minimize the appearance of white spots or patches.
Common treatments for white spots include:
Topical creams can be prescribed by a doctor and they work by bleaching the skin so that the hypopigmented area will easily blend in with the surrounding areas. Hydroquinone or TriLuma are two creams that are often prescribed. Topical retinoids, corticosteroids, glycolic acid, azelaic acid and L-Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) are also sometimes used.
Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatments and laser treatments can sometimes be effective in reducing the appearance of white spots. IPL, also known as flashlamp therapy, is an on-invasive treatment that targets the lower levels of the skin(dermis)using high-intensity pulses of visible light. This causes micro-injuries to the skin which helps encourage new collagen production in the affected area, resulting in a more even complexion.
IPL is similar to laser treatments in the fact that they both use light waves, but laser treatments use a single wavelength of light while IPL uses a broad spectrum in combination with filters.
In addition, laser treatments can either be ablative or-ablative. Ablative laser treatments cause injury to the top layers of the skin which are then removed while non-ablative treatments target the lower layers of the skin through heat damage. Popular non-ablative laser treatment is the Fraxel laser treatment. Only a doctor or dermatologist can advise which type of light treatment is best for you.
In more extreme cases, prescription medications are sometimes prescribed to reduce the appearance of white spots. In the case of fungal infections like tinea versicolor, anti-fungal pills will be prescribed.
Drugs that target your immune systems, like azathioprine, cyclosporine, or methotrexate, will sometimes be prescribed for conditions like eczema or lichen sclerosis.
In some instances, dermabrasion may be recommended to treat white spots. Dermabrasion works by essentially “sanding” down the top layer of the skin with a wire brush or diamond wheel with rough edges.
Like the light treatments, this process is injuring the skin to stimulate the healing process, leaving newly refreshed skin in the end.
Dermabrasion works best on the face as this area of skin heals quicker than the skin on other parts of the body. Dermabrasion is more commonly used to heal scars, but a dermatologist can advise if it is the right course of treatment for specific hypopigmentation cases.