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Q&A:
Why does my 22-month-old have light patches of skin on her body?

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Question


Why does my 22-month-old have light patches of skin on her body?

Answer


White patches of skin have many possible causes. The most common cause, especially in a darkly pigmented child like your daughter, is post-inflammatory hypopigmentation. This occurs after having a rash or skin irritation—anything that causes inflammation in the skin. The color change appears in the areas of the prior rash and is temporary, with pigment eventually returning on its own.

Some children have pityriasis alba, which produces faint white patches of skin, especially on the face. These children usually have a history of atopic dermatitis (eczema) or other allergic diseases such as asthma or hay fever. Again, the pigmentation usually returns on its own, although it may take months to years. For both of these disorders, moisturizing the skin is helpful, and sun protection is a must: These areas will be more prone to sunburn, and tanning will only make them more obvious.

Vitiligo is a fairly common disorder that results in very white (absolutely no pigment) patches of skin. It usually appears on the bony prominences—knuckles, elbows, knees, ankles, hips—and on the skin around the mouth, eyes, and genitals. Treatments for this condition are available, but of variable success. Your daughter's pediatrician can answer your specific questions after seeing her.  
 
 
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