Skin Care

FAQ: I Need Help With My White Spots

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youtube Laurence Hattersley

If you suffer from fungal infections, don’t worry as they are very common. One example is a condition known as tinea versicolour, a superficial yeast infection that creates white spots on the skin that are hard to get rid of. If you have these, read on for tips on how to remove them.

How do I get these white spots?

Malassezia or also known as Pityrosporum orbiculare, the yeast that causes tinea versicolor, is existing in small numbers on normal skin; if you wash regular, it gets rids of the dead skin cells as well as excess yeast. It can grow in great amounts, throughout the summer months when humidity is high or when your immune system is weak and interferes with the normal pigmentation of the skin. This results in unpleasant spots in both light and dark colours.

Teenagers and young adults, regardless of skin colour, are the usual victims of this infection. People with oily skin may be more prone to it than those with dry skin. In tropical countries, where humidity and temperature are persistently high, people of all ages can suffer from these spots all during the year.

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Please can you tell me the symptoms?

Flat spots that vary in colour from white to pink and to tan and brown appear over the upper arms, back, chest, neck and face. They can also be different in size. You may also feel itchy and particularly if you’re a person that sweats or gets hot quickly. Best thing to do, is try to not itch! I know it’s hard but it will be worth it!

Is there anything I can do about it?

If you have seen these white spots or aren’t sure what they are, book an appointment to see your doctor or a dermatologist. Looking at the skin is often all that is needed to diagnose, but they may want to do a microscopic examination of the fine scales if need be. They will take a scrape of your skin and test it. When this is viewed under a special light or chemical preparation, they can recognise the yeast.

How do I treat it?

This infection will respond to a shampoo or cream treatment. Antifungal creams, ointments, or shampoos – containing selenium sulphide, ketoconazole, zinc-pyrithrone, imidazole, or other medications will help. These are applied directly to affected areas once or twice daily. Sulphur soap and salicylic acid have also been used to rid skin of the yeast. The repair of skin colour will take a few months after the yeast has been destroyed. The shampoo is applied to the body and then rinsed off after 30 minutes or so. This is repeated up to 7 times over a 2 week period. Please contact your doctor or dermatologist before using any of these treatments.

It is very common for the infection to return and medicated body cleansers may be needed to prevent comebacks. Ask your dermatologist for more information.

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Another tip would be, if you have a tan – use self tan on the white spots so they blend in with your skin tone but if you are worried about them, please visit your doctor first.

To discourage growth of the fungus, keep your skin dry and wear thin, loose clothing.


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