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There are many things that cause white spots on the skin. Often, they indicate mean a fungal infection, such as Tinea versicolor, a non-contagious disease caused by a type of yeast. Sometimes, people with this condition develop red or brown spots instead of white spots; though unsightly, they don't cause any physical harm.
When white spots mean a fungal infection, they can usually be treated fairly easily. Many people use over-the-counter anti-fungal treatments to clear them up, and generally, such medications work over a two-week period. Sometimes people have white spots over a large area of their bodies. When this occurs, they may use a shampoo that contains anti-fungal medicine to help clear the spots faster and prevent their return.
Sometimes people develop white spots on the skin after visiting tanning salons on a regular basis. In such cases, the spots can mean either a fungus or a change in the skin due to exposure in the tanning bed. In some cases, white spots mean that a prescription medication has interfered with the normal functioning of the skin. For example, certain types of medications, such as some oral medicines for acne, cause sensitivity to light. When a person is taking such medication and is exposed to sunlight for a significant amount of time, he or she may develop white spots or unevenly tanned skin.
In some cases, white spots indicate a skin disorder. For example, the skin disorder called pityriasis alba is known to produce white patches on the skin. These patches, which are often round or oval in shape and may be flaky, typically show up on the face and upper part of the body, including the torso. This particular type of skin infection is most commonly found in children and adolescents, and it is also more common among those with darker skin. Pityriasis alba can be treated with prescription medication.
Less commonly, white spots on the skin are a sign of vitiligo, which is a condition that involves the loss of melanin. This loss leads to white spots and patches that spread and may eventually cover a large part of a person's body. The condition is often inherited, and it is typically more noticeable in those with darker skin. Unfortunately, there is no cure for the condition, but there are treatments that may help to slow down the spread of the white spots and patches.
There are some cases in which white spots on the skin indicate damage to the skin cells. For example, some burns may lead to white spots, as can the effects of some laser treatments, such as those intended for removing hair and treating the scars from acne. To avoid this type of skin damage, people should seek such treatments only from licensed practitioners or those who have received an adequate level of training. Some people seek recommendations from their dermatologists or other medical profesionals.