What Are Those White Spots on My Child’s Face?

Tis the season. . . as summer rolls around I’ve again started getting questions almost daily from parents worried about scattered white spots that are appearing on their child’s face. Parents often worry that these skin changes are a sign of vitamin deficiency or some sort of infection, but they are most often due to a very common but somewhat mysterious skin condition called pityriasis alba.

We don’t understand exactly what causes pityriasis alba,  but we do know that it is not dangerous and is not related to a more serious condition inside your child’s body. It is thought to be a type of dermatitis (non-specific inflammation of the skin) that leads to “post-inflammatory hypopigmentation”. This means that the skin is dry or irritated in some way and the skin is left injured. The affected areas appear lighter that other areas of the skin, especially after sun exposure. This is why parents start to notice and ask about this condition in the late spring and early summer- the contrast between affected skin and healthy skin is more obvious after kids start playing outside more.

Protecting your child’s skin from the sun with broad-spectrum sunscreen is the best way to prevent this condition from becoming more noticeable (and is also really important for other reasons). Your pediatrician may also recommend frequent use of emollients (moisturizer) year-round, as this helps to stop progression of the problem and diminish the dry skin and scaling that are sometimes associated with pityriasis. Even with treatment, pityriasis alba may take months to a year to completely resolve.

There are other skin conditions that cause patchy or more generalized whitening of the skin, such as vitiligo, psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, or tinea versicolor. If you think your child may have one of these conditions, talk with your child’s health care provider.

9 thoughts on “What Are Those White Spots on My Child’s Face?

    • Thanks so much for reading. Vitiligo is a quite different disease process than pityriasis alba. Treatment is very individualized and really should be discussed with your primary care provider. I’m sorry I can’t really be of more help, except to direct you to this general overview of vitiligo from The Mayo Clinic.

  1. Pingback: white spots on skin | Next Health News

  2. Even I am having white spots on my cheek what is the reason? I am having it almost a month. When I consulted dermatologist she gave a sunscreen SUNBAN is that helpful

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    • My daughter is 6 and she has a few patches on her eyelids, they seem to get only bigger and I’m super concern about it, the doctor recommended moisturizing because sometimes they look a little scaly, now I’ve noticed she’s only getting more and more patches all over her body

      • Dear Maria,

        I’m sorry I can’t help you here with this specific concern about your daughter. I would recommend making another appointment with your doctor if you feel the lesions are worsening. Best wishes!

  4. Dear Dr. I am 13 years little girl, I have a white patches on my face from my birth, I had visited so many doctors here around. But, the patches are spreading almost all over my face and I find no cure. Can you please help me.

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