Idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis is a skin condition that causes small white markings to appear on various parts of the body. These markings look a little bit like freckles in terms of size and distribution. This condition doesn’t actually do any harm, but many people find it cosmetically unpleasant, and some people are willing to undergo surgical procedures to get rid of it. These spots generally develop as people enter middle age, and they often show up more commonly in fair-skinned people, especially women.
For most people, the spots will first appear on the legs, especially areas that are commonly exposed to the sun when wearing shorts. After that, the arms will often develop spots as well. For some people, the condition will continue to spread, and they may even get spots on their faces. As people age, the density of the spots will generally increase.
The cause of this disorder is still somewhat mysterious. Some scientists think the spots are literally a lighter-shaded freckle. Others think they are a degeneration of the skin pigment that occurs in a fashion similar to the process of hair going gray. There is a general consensus that sun exposure increases the number of spots that develop, but this idea is technically still theoretical and generally unproven. Most experts agree that the condition probably has a genetic component, because many sufferers have family members who also develop the disorder.
According to many experts, the best way to deal with idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis is to avoid excess sun exposure if possible, but this is not enough to actually stop the spots from developing altogether. Once the condition begins to develop, there are a few ways to treat it, but because the disorder isn’t physically harmful, most people choose to do nothing. For many individuals who are worried about the way the spots make them look, using cosmetics to cover up the densest areas is often sufficient.
People who are insistent about getting rid of the spots have a few options as well. One treatment is called cryotherapy. This approach involves freezing various kinds of skin imperfections, which kills the cells. It is usually used with more serious conditions like skin cancer, and using it for idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis is generally an unusual application. Other approaches for dealing with idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis include grafting skin from an unflawed area of the body or using an abrasive surgical tool to remove the spots.