What are white spots? How do we fade them?

August 5, 2021

How do we fade white spots? What are they?

The white spots that are commonly seen on areas of the body frequently exposed to sun are called idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis. The white spots are a form of leukoderma that present as flat white spots or patches. They are not dangerous from a medical standpoint, but can be concerning for people cosmetically. These spots are likely caused from sun damage, just like how dark spots can be formed. Typically, this becomes more common as people age. 80% of people over the age of 40 are affected but it can affect all sexes, races, and skin types. The cause of idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis is not concrete and can be multifactorial. It can be due to sun exposure, skin aging, genetic factors, and/or autoimmune responses.

What can help?

These spots can be extremely difficult to treat. Most importantly, sun protection is necessary and it is never too late to start applying sunscreen daily. The number of spots usually increase with time making it important to continue to protect your skin from the sun, reapply often, and avoid peak UV exposure times (mid-day).

Aside from sun protection, there are other options to try:

Tretinoin/retinol- A topical vitamin A can remove sun damaged skin cells, visible signs of sun damage, and potentially reduce the chance of skin cancer. You can use retinol on the body too for similar results.

Protopic- An eczema cream that can be used to help treat IGH.

Cryotherapy- This liquid freezing spray can help freeze/shrink the appearance of the spots. Liquid nitrogen should be used with caution because over aggressive treatment can lead to worsening of the white spots.

Laser- Excimer laser plus 5-FU can give great results. Co2 lasers can also help decrease the appearance of prominent white spots.

Chemical peels with TCA 50%- can help with re-pigmentation; a cotton swab dipped in TCA will be applied to the white spots. 10 days later, you will expose the spot to the sun, and in 4-6 weeks, you can start to see re-pigmentation.

As usual, we stress the importance of sun protection! Our Bronzee Solaire Hydratant: Hydrating Tinted Sunshield SPF 50, is perfect for daily application. This mineral-based, organic sunshield is a synergistic and powerful formulation that lends hydration, anti-aging, brightening, and broad-spectrum UV protective benefits.  

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