Medical questions & health advice by licensed doctors
"Could too much tanning be causing the white spot on my skin?"
I go to tanning beds in the winter and lay out in the sun a lot in the summer. This summer, I noticed a white patch about the size of a quarter on my right leg. Is too much tanning the cause? Should I have it checked out or something?
Spots like this one that appear only after you have tanned are quite common. There are several different things that can cause this. Tanning too much can cause changes in your skin, but it is unlikely to cause you to have an area of skin that does not tan.
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One possible cause of this problem is a skin infection with the fungus tinea versicolor. This is an infection that may not be noticed until you try and tan. The infection can cause the skin to be white, red, or even orange (hence the name versicolor). Another possibility (which is more rare) is that you have the beginnings of the skin condition vitiligo. This is a condition where the body's immune system attacks the pigment producing cells in the skin making it so the skin is very light colored. I suggest that you schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. He or she will be able to look at the patch and may be able to tell what it is. If a fungal infection is suspected, then your doctor may prescribe an antifungal cream for you to use. If your doctor cannot tell what it is, then you may need referral to see a dermatologist.
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