Pityriasis Alba

Pityriasis alba means “white and scaly.” It describes a skin condition related to eczema that appears as oval, white patches over the cheeks, upper arms, and shoulders.

The skin lesions of pityriasis alba tend to appear more prominent towards the end of summer when the rest of the skin is tanned and the affected area remains pale.

What causes Pityriasis alba?

Although no specific cause for pityriasis alba has been found, it appears to be due to low-grade inflammation of the skin that blocks the normal pigmentation process.

This low-grade inflammation may be due to eczema or some other short-lived skin disorder. In fact, some individuals display red scaly patches more typical of eczema along with pityriasis alba patches.

Pityriasis is not contagious, is not harmful and is not a sign of another underlying disease.

How is pityriasis alba treated?

Almost all cases resolve slowly with the use of mild topical corticosteroids, such as hydrocortisone. The cortisone creams stop the inflammation and allow the pigment to be redistributed normally.

It is generally recommended that patients moisturize the area with a good body lotion after bathing and follow their physician’s instructions for the application of any prescribed medication.

It is important to allow time to see a resolution of symptoms because it takes time for the skin to re-establish its normal color.

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Last updated: 1/8/2019