White Patches on the skin

When the term white spot on the skin is mentioned, it may not cause much alarm in the hearers. This is especially so in hearers with lighter skin of the Caucasian, Asian or Hispanic variety. These skin tones are very light and white patches on these skins may not be clearly visible. The same cannot be said of their darker skinned counterparts. This is because white spots on darker skin tones are clearly visible and look out of place and abnormally conspicuous.

Melanin produces skin color on individuals and when the cells that produce melanin are destroyed, the skin loses its natural color and appears white in color. There are many schools of thought as to the causes of white patches on the skin. Let us explore some theories below.
Vitiligo, a rather common skin disorder, that degenerates as it continues, creates light colored skin patches. Vitiligo is caused by a disorder of the autoimmune system, where the cells in the body attack the cells that produce skin pigmentation. Vitiligo starts at an early age and most people get it by their 40th birthday. At first the Vitiligo shows as a slight lightening on the skin but as time goes by the skin losses more and more melanin until it appears milk white or pinkish in color. The white patches on the skin caused by Vitiligo are normally jagged at the edges but many maintain the same smoothness as the rest of skin. Vitiligo affects the face, hands, legs, back, and torso. It can also affect the inside of the body within the areas with the mucous membrane like the mouth, nose and eye. Animals are also affected by Vitiligo. It can appear on only one part of the body or even spread over other parts of the body. Vitiligo is not caused by any infection and is not contagious.

"HIV," Human Immunodeficiency Virus, causes the most dreaded of all diseases, AIDS. Acquired Immunity Deficiency Syndrome or AIDS is a highly contagious and infectious disease that is mainly sexually transmitted. It has very many complications that directly affect the bodies’ organs and produces various opportunistic infections. Persons suffering from aids usually have white skin patches inside the mouth and on the gums. These skin patches may also have sores with pus in them causing the sufferer much pain and discomfort.

Skin fungal infections can also cause white spots on the skin. One such example is Tinea Versicolor is a very common yeast infection. The white spots it produces are difficult to remove. This infection can come about when the weather is very hot, like during the summer months. The combined forces of a lack of personal hygiene and a lowered immunity system can lead to the formation of high quantities of the yeast that causes Tinea Versicolor. This condition is prevalent in teens and young adults. Also those with an oily skin can be more prone to get it as opposed to those with dry skin. Regions of the world with a tropical climate that is hot and humid the whole year round usually have more sufferers than their counterparts in the temperate regions.

Nevus depigmentosus is another" skin depigmentation disorder Some cases are noted at birth and the white skin patches increase in size as the body grows. These white patches are quite stable and not progressive. They are normally localized and can appear on any part of the body. This condition can be easily confused with Vitiligo and only a trained physician can be able to tell the difference.

Another skin disorder that is genetic by nature and causes white patches on the skin is called idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis.This occurs when the skin loses its density hence resulting in the subsequent lose of skin color cells. The white patches on the skin appear small rounded and flat on examination.  This condition affects more men than women and usually shows itself after the 40th birthday. It affects more fair skinned people although their darker skinned counterparts are not exempt. It is thought to be caused by the aging process of the skin and also exposure to the sun or artificial sun sources like a tanning bed. It is prevalent on the shins and forearms but other areas like the chest, shoulders and face can be affected. Idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis can also be confused for Vitiligo.

We notice that sometimes after an injury, white skin spots appear on the area where the skin has healed. The white spots on the skin that arise out of an injury are determined by the type of injury and the extent of damage to the cells that produce melanin (which is responsible for skin pigmentation).  If these are lost then the skin in that area will appear white in color when healed. Injuries causing this can either be physical or chemical in nature.

In children, a common skin disorder causing white patches on the skin is Pityriasis Alba. Here the spots are dry, scaly and localized on the face. Other parts of the body may be affected also. No specific cause can be identified except that the activity of the pigment producing cells has been known to be very low. Humidity, heat, smoke and stress have been known to promote this skin disorder. The white spots on the face can be very small or very large. This condition is frequently confused with childhood Vitiligo.

Eczema can also cause white spots on the skin. This inflammatory skin disorder is cause by an allergy and is associated with asthma. Eczema usually results in scaling and very uncomfortable itching of the skin. This may make the skin peel or ooze. Furthermore, it can lead to the formation of white spots on the skin.

White spots on the skin may develop slowly or at once. Many are not very serious in nature and with the right treatment can be cured. Prompt medical attention is ideal for determining the exact cause and in seeking the most accurate course of the treatment.

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