Often parents get worried when they see white scaly or flaky patches on their kids face. Most of the time it is pityriasis alba, a chronic skin condition. Though disturbing, the silver lining is it is a harmless skin problem affecting children and sometimes young adults. The literary meaning of pityriasis is scaly and alba is a Latin word for white.
The scaly white patches are prominent on cheeks, chin and forehead, at times they also appear on neck, arm and on the abdomen. The white patches are more apparent in dark skin persons.
Causes Of Pityriasis Alba
The exact cause for development of pityriasis remains obscure. Researchers are unable to identify the reason for these white patches on face. It is believed children and young adults who have dry skin, Asthma, allergic rhinitis, atopic eczema are often susceptible to this skin condition. Children having eczema are also prone to such types of white spots.
- Dermatologists believe the white spots are a mild form of eczema. Injudicious and excessive use of corticosteroid cream in treating eczema may also precipitate pale white patches.
- When the color producing cells called melanocytes reduce their activity for a limited period, they may give rise to faded white patches on the skin surface. This has been proved in histological findings.
- Children between the ages 3 to 15 are vulnerable to pityriasis alba.
- It is frequently seen in males than in females.
Here are some of the triggering factors believed to be responsible for development of pityriasis alba.
- Summer heat: It makes the skin drier and more sensitive to skin diseases.
- More humidity makes the skin drier. During this period the skin becomes vulnerable for development of pityriasis alba.
- Soaps and detergents having strong fragrances may be trigger pityriasis alba.
- It is easily visible in people with dark skin.
- Child having Asthma is also vulnerable to this skin condition.
Pityriasis Alba Diagnosis
Often on examination the dermatologists can diagnose pityriasis alba. But when in doubt, he will differentiate it from vitiligo and other post inflammatory depigmentation following a specific inflammatory reaction. He may take a small skin scraping for examination under microscope.
The histological changes such as parakeratosis, lymphocytic perivascular infiltrate in the upper layer may be a clinching factor in diagnosing the condition. However, this is seldom required as the white spots are peculiar and the doctor is mostly able to clinically diagnose the condition.
Natural Home Remedies For Pityriasis Alba
Treatment for pityriasis alba is not usually required as after a period of time, it heals on its own. However, sometimes application of steroidal cream for a short period of time quickens the healing process. Since the skin of children is delicate, you should always consult the doctor before applying the steroidal creams.
- Apply moisturizer on the child’s face. Petroleum jelly and Vaseline are good moisturizer. But use those that do not have any fragrance.
- Also apply sunscreen before going out in the sun to prevent recurrence of pityriasis alba.
- In severe cases patient may require treatment with PUVA therapy.
- Buttermilk, olive oil and coconut oil are also effective moisturizers that are easily available in your kitchen cabinet.
- Make a puree of Avocados and apply it on the face. It acts as an emollient. Avocados are high in fats, vitamin A and E. It helps to retain moisture.