Skin care

White spots on the skin of children in summer

Summer is a season that we all look forward to, but exposure to the sun, especially in babies, can cause innumerable skin lesions and among them, there are some lesions or white spots on children's skin called pityriasis alba or dartros and pityriasis versicolor.

They can appear at any age, but they are more frequent in children and adolescents who look very tanned and are the cause of frequent consultation with the pediatrician and even in pharmacies, which is not the most appropriate, since it should not be self-medicated.

What are pityriasis alba or dartros
They are skin lesions, which appear as red, scaly and very itchy spots, which, upon healing, leave very faint hypopigmented (white) spots. They have poorly defined edges and irregular size.

The origin of these spots is not yet known precisely, many think that it is fungal infections, but in reality it is not. They have been related most of all to atopic dermatitis or caused by poor skin hydration, due to exposure to the sun that dehydrates it and when the skin is very tanned, these white spots become more visible.

They are benign lesions, not cancerous and not contagious, being considered more an aesthetic problem than a health one. They are seen in ages between 3 and 16 years and when they appear in childhood, they usually disappear in adolescence. These spots are most frequently located on the face, but they can also spread to the neck, shoulders, arms and can also be found on the legs.

What should be the treatment of pityriasis alba?
As most of these spots disappear on their own, many times they are left without treatment, but there are cases where the itching (itching) is intense or the spot is very depigmented (very white), so you go to the pediatrician or dermatologist in search of adequate treatment. And as a pediatrician I would recommend the following treatment for pityriasis alba:

- Frequently used moisturizers.

- Low concentration corticosteroid creams.

- Non-steroidal creams, elidel type, especially to improve itching.

- Do not self-medicate.

- And prevention, which is the most important thing, the use of sunscreens with a protection factor greater than 50 and applied frequently every time the child bathes. And the use of light, thin clothing, with hats, caps and be in the shade as long as possible.

What is pityriasis versicolor
They are skin lesions, produced by the growth and proliferation of a fungus called malassezzia furfur, which normally inhabits the superficial layer and, for this reason, is not considered an infectious disease, that is, it is not contagious.

It is characterized by spots of irregular size, which at first appear light brown, scaly and then turn into white spots that are noticeable especially on tanned skins in summer.

Pityriasis versicolor can affect any age group, but it is most common in children and adolescents. It prefers warm and humid environments, so during the summer the proliferation of this fungus is very frequent. The spots are located above all at the level of the upper trunk, neck and arms.

When these cases come to my pediatric consultation, I usually refer them to a pediatric dermatologist for their diagnosis, which is based on the patient's symptoms (characteristics of the spots) and on the observation of characteristic images under the microscope, called ' spaghetti and meat ', from the peeling of skin lesions.

Recommendations to treat pityriasis versicolor
Treatment is based on the topical application of antifungal creams at the level of the lesions, for about 3 to 4 weeks. Oral treatment can be considered when there is no rapid improvement of the lesions or when there are recurrences, which are frequent, since it is a fungus that normally lives on the skin (commensal). And for these cases I advise:

- Avoid keeping the skin moist, so when leaving the beach or pool, dry the skin well.

- Keep clothes dry.

- Hydrate yourself with enough fluids, preferably water.

- Avoid excessive perspiration, sheltering in shady and cool places.

- Do not self-medicate.

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