Most parents are worried when they observe white patches on their children’s skin over the face and bring them for consultation. Many of them have heard that these are due to some deficiency and others think that these are due to some serious skin disease, for this reason I thought of writing about these.
These patches are whitish (not shiny white), has ill defined margin and merge with the surrounding skin. They are oval or round in shape, about 0.5cm to 5cms in size, mildly scaly and usually occurs on face. These may occur on arms or chest also. These are very common, about 30 to 50 percent of children get them. They occur on dark as well as white skin but are more prominent on dark skin because of contrast.
These are known as pityriasis alba. Cause is not known. These may be mild form of eczema and at times may be related to dandruff in hair. They are not due to any deficiency nor due to worms or stomach upset. No treatment helps, however you can apply some moisturizing cream. They will disappear any time between one month to one year of age.
There are other reasons for white patches but they are different than what I have described and are not so common.
Dr Raj Rani Mitra