ZocdocAnswersWhat are these white patches on my arms?

Question

What are these white patches on my arms?

I'm a guy in my 30s, and since I started getting tanner in the warm season, I found that I had a few large white patches on my arms and shoulder. Is it true that this is possibly some type of skin fungus?

Answer

These types of skin issues are actually quite common. White patches on the skin that appear after getting a tan can be one of several things. The best type of physician for you to see about this issue is a dermatologist. You are correct that lighter colored patches can be a skin fungus. The name of this type of infection is tinea versicolor. It is a common infection that gets in the skin and can either turn it red, pink, dark, or light (hence the term versicolor). It is often first noticed when the person gets a tan and those areas do not darken. It is treated with either topical or oral anti-fungal medications along with a ketoconazole shampoo. The type of treatment will depend on how much of your body is involved and should be chosen by a physician. Another possibility is vitiligo, a skin condition in which the body's immune system attacks the pigment. Treatment for this is more complex. I suggest that you schedule an appointment with a dermatologist. He or she can examine your skin lesions very closely and (most likely) determine quite quickly what they are. If the diagnosis is in question, then the doctor may decide to perform a biopsy. Either way, you will find out what it is and get it treated.

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