Monday, 8 April 2013

Pityriasis alba- the pale white spots: FAQs

Pityriasis alba:

This condition literally means scaly ( pityriasis)  pale ( alba) patches. This condition presents as pale white patches on face, neck and upper arms. It may present initially with slightly red patches and sometimes have very fine scaling present over them. Most of the patients encountered daily in my practice belong to the age group of 2 to 13 years with males slightly outnumbering females. Frequently asked questions are as follows:

Q – Doctor, What is the cause of this condition?
Ans – This is a very mild form of eczema commonly presenting in growing age of children. Although the exact cause remains unknown, this is more apparent in summers when the surrounding skin tans making these white patches prominent.

Pale white spots of Pityriasis alba
 Q-   Doctor, My child has been suffering from these white patches for quite some time and they seem to migrate as if they disappear at one place only to appear at another?
Ans – These patches have a tendency to recur and hence it is perceived this way.

Q – Is it due to underlying calcium or any other deficiency?
Ans – No it is a form of mild eczema which is not affected by any dietary factors or anything in the external environment.

Q- Will it progress to ‘white patches‘ or leucoderma?
Distinct patches of leucoderma
Ans- Vitiligo or leucoderma is a close differential diagnosis but the patches are totally devoid of pigment or milky white as compared to pale white patches with slightly yellow tinge and mild scaling seen in Pityriasis alba. Also Vitiligo doesn’t disappear without treatment as compared to self healing nature of Pityriasis alba. Consult your dermatologist for confirmation of diagnosis and in case of any confusion. 

Q- Will the normal color return to these patches?
Ans- These patches will regain their normal color in some time , sometimes few months to over an year. They are not permanent in nature but take some time to disappear completely.


  1. please pray for my daughter 2 yrs old having white patches on face.
    Signs of Vitiligo

  2. Hi Sara
    My prayers and best wishes for your daughter.I sincerely hope and wish her speedy recovery

  3. Hopefully it is Pitarysis Alba, will definitely pray for her

  4. Hi,my daughter is 19 months old and she is having this white patch on her face and it is not going away.What should I put on that patch,please advise.

    1. Hi
      Please apply a good squalene based moisturiser can try 1% Hydrocortisone ointment or cream formulation for ten days. Continue to apply the moisturiser for a longer period.

  5. Hi doctor, I'm 18 and live in a humid country, i have these patches mainly on my forehead. It's barely noticeable (at least to others) I wanna know will these patches get worse, noticeable and even spread. I have been prescribed to put this cream (protopic), I wanna know how long will it take to clear this up. Pls help doctor :(


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