(Light Patches on the Skin/ Patchy Hypochromia)
Pityriasis Alba is one of the commonest skin conditions affecting children of either sex belonging to 3-16 years age group. The oval and light colored skin patches numbering one to many with slow recovery but having considerable size of few centimeters are usually a major cause of worry for parents due to their presence mainly over face, shoulders, arms, and upper trunk areas.
Pityriasis Alba patches cause anxiety in parents of children due to location of patches on exposed areas and upper trunk and nearly white appearance. The individual patches might be a faint rosy color at the onset accompanied by very fine scaling but for the most part these patches stay smooth and less pigmented than the surrounding normal skin. Eventually, these patches remain asymptomatic throughout and recover without leaving any trace. Parents tend to confuse such lesions with leucoderma. Darker complexion of the surrounding skin further aggravates their anxiety level due to prominence caused by greater contrast. It has been observed that parental concerns tend to be exaggerated and botheration and financial loss incurred by them do not seem justified for an otherwise self healing condition. An accurate knowledge about Pityriasis Alba can help save such a wastage and possibly aid in faster recovery.
- Pityriasis Alba is not caused by
microorganisms and does not spread from a patient to others
- Research studies undertaken in tropical
countries have concluded that 5-10% children suffer from this condition.
- Pityriasis Alba is found in children of
all races, with most cases occurring in children less than 12 years age.
- The exact cause for Pityriasis Alba is
not known but low immunity, cold weather, sun exposure, history of allergies,
and malnutrition have been implicated..
- It tends to heal by itself without leaving
any residual damage on the skin.
Self-help, Management, and Prevention
Diagnosis of Pityriasis Alba is generally straight forward and is made on clinical examination. Rarely, investigations like Wood's light examination might be needed to help exclusion of leucoderma. Pityriasis Alba is a self healing condition in most cases but recovery tends to be slow, taking as long as up to a year or even more in many cases. The number of round or oval patches seen in a patient is variable, the average being 5-10 lesions of 1-4 cm in diameter. Individual lesions have a light color and poorly defined margins. Scaling may or may not be present. When present it is often scant.
Parents of the affected children can save significant botheration armed with the knowledge:
- That the lesions recover completely
despite long time taken to do so.
- Pityriasis Alba is a benign condition
and does not spread from one person to another
- That the condition will most probably
recover completely with simple measures. Measures like good hygiene, proper
diet, use of skin softening agents like emollients, protection from cold
weather and sunlight are usually all that is needed for good results.
- Some cases might need medication prescribed
by a healthcare service provider. The
commonly prescribed medications contain one or more of the active ingredients
like weak steroids, tacrolimus, and tar preparations. Ultraviolent therapy is
known to hasten recovery in some cases.
- Overall prognosis stays equally good despite
recurrences, if any.
- Medicated preparations can help faster
In our practice, we emphasize the benign nature of illness and reassure parents about non- contagious nature of disease. We look for any causes and suggest appropriate measures. Parents are counseled about the overall excellent outcome and are advised to expect natural healing. We track the progress as per needs of the patient and address their concerns.
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Dr Vinay Kumar
Senior Consultant Dermatologist
+91-93 199 299 00
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