Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Why do I have white spots on my arm?"
I am an 18 year old college student in Florida. Since I was about 8 years old I have had these small just barely noticeable white spots on my arm. They first appeared shortly after I first moved to Florida from New York. There is no pain or irritation with the spots they are just a bit odd and I was wondering what caused them.
There are a few different possibilities here, but as long as the spots are not growing or becoming more numerous they are likely not something you need to worry about. A common condition is post inflammatory hypopigmentation, which is a lightening of the skin in areas that were previously damaged, for example from acne, small cuts, and other processes. This is essentially a normal reaction of the skin during the healing process, and the skin tone usually evens out over months to years. However, if this is what is going on and if you have had these same spots since you were 8 years old, they would be unlikely to diminish anymore at this point. Another common condition is something called tinea versicolor, which is a fungal infection of the skin which can cause pale, whitish spots that are usually oval shaped on the skin. The spots can wax and wane over the summer and winter months. Usually the spots are also itchy and may have a fine scale on them, but not always. Treatment of tinea versicolor is usually by topical or oral antifungal medications. Talk to your primary care doctor who will be about to diagnose what is going on and help you decide if treatment is needed.
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