Pityriasis Alba

Pityriasis Alba: Causes, Picture, Symptoms and Treatment

Pityriasis Alba is the medical term for the common skin disorder that affects children and young people. With the society giving more importance to the visual appeal, the skin disorder can mar the appeal. The skin problem can cause pale patches on the face. The dry and fine scaly appearance of the complication can trigger a self-confidence problem. it is not a life-threatening issue. So, the problem may never cause any fatal complications. You need no medical intervention to overcome the problem. The self-limiting issue can clear with the use of good moisturizing cream. Read ahead to know the problem in detail.

What Is Pityriasis Alba?

Pityriasis Alba

The term Pityriasis means the fine scaly appearance on the skin. While Alba is the Latin word, which means white. So, the pallor of the patches on the skin has a depigmented appearance. When you get affected by the issue, you can see white, scaly patches. The problem affects young people. So, you can observe it on children and adolescents. The exact cause of the issue still remains unclear. But, the problem is mostly associated with another common skin disorder known as eczema. Eczema can trigger itchy and scaly rashes on affected people. Similarly, Pityriasis Alba can result in the development of pink or red patches on the skin. You may often ignore the problem on the kids as the round or oval patches on the skin clears after some time. But, the problem can leave pale marks on the skin even after the redness has vanished.

Appearance Of Pityriasis Alba

With different skin problems affecting the children at a young age, you can get confused. So, how you detect if your child has pityriasis alba. The skin rash mostly appears as white patches on the skin. The skin lesions appearing in an oval raised, round or flat size are visible on darker skin. So, children with lighter skin tone never notice it easily. It is not an infection. So, it is not a severe problem. You can rule out fungus or virus as the cause of the issue. The rash appears as patches with white scale. It may vary from 0.5cm to 2cm in size. But, some people may get larger ones that can measure up to 4cm. the patches never appear as a single one. So, you can mostly find four or five. In some cases, children can notice more than twenty such patches.

Appearance Of Pityriasis Alba
Source:Diseases Pictures

The skin rash mostly affects the cheek area on the child’s face. But, it can also appear in other areas like the neck, shoulder or upper arms. In the winter season, the dry wind inside and outside the house can result in dry scaly patches. But, the issue becomes more prominent in the summer months. The sunlight can tan the normal skin surrounding the rash. Therefore, it makes children or young ones with dry skin or eczema more prone to the issue. The itchiness of the rash can make affected people uncomfortable. The appearance is the major complication of the rash. You can become embarrassed due to the appearance of the rash.

Stages Of Pityriasis Alba

Unlike other skin rashes, the pityriasis alba goes through three major stages. The individual lesions go through the following stages:

Stage 1

A pink or red patch with a slightly raised border. It can cause itchiness. In most cases, the mild redness or pink color goes unnoticed. So, you may never detect the problem easily.

Stage 2

The raised border can leave a white patch. The redness or pinkness fades. It has a scaly texture that can affect your skin’s appearance.

Stage 3

In most cases, people notice the rash during the third stage. The rash leaves only a pale patch of skin. So, the smooth, pale patches of skin without any scale can have a prominent appearance.

Confusing Pityriasis Alba With Other Skin Rashes

You can confuse the skin rash with several other cases. You need to see a dermatologist for the right diagnosis. The most common cases confused with pityriasis alba are:

Tinea Versicolor

Tinea Versicolor

Your body has the fungus that keeps you protected from the infections or other harmful diseases. One of the common fungus known as Malassezia can protect you. In normal cases, it causes no harm. But, the excess growth of the yeast can result in a problem known as tinea versicolor. The fungal overgrowth results in the patchy lesion. The white patches can resemble pityriasis alba. So, consult a dermatologist to detect the right issue.



Vitiligo is the other condition that has the same appearance. It occurs due to the destruction of the melanocytes in your skin. The border of the two skin issues differs from one another. While the vitiligo has distinct borders, the other skin rash not much. Vitiligo has dark as well as light skin tones. It appears in large patches. The problem can affect any parts of your body like:

  • Armpits
  • Eyes
  • Naval
  • Groin
  • Genitals
  • Rectal Area

So, you need a professional diagnosis to distinguish the problem accurately.

Symptoms Of Pityriasis Alba

How can you know you have the problem? Some signs and symptoms indicate you suffer from the issue. So, check for the following to detect the presence of pityriasis alba.


The skin rash appears oval, round, or irregularly shaped patches. The affected skin can appear red or pale pink in color. You may observe that the skin lesions have a dry and scaly texture. Therefore, the lesion can dampen your visual appearance. The raised skin covered with fine flakes can make you self-conscious. It is more prominent during the summertime. The tanning during the season makes the lesions appear clearer. The surrounding dark skin can project the lesions.

Places Of Appearance

The 0.25 inch to 1-inch lesion has no clear borders. So, it blends into the pigmented skin. But, it appears most commonly on the cheeks of the kids. The other areas the skin rash may appear are:

  • Upper Arms
  • Back
  • Chest
  • Neck

Prognosis Of Skin Rashes

Normally, the red or pale pink spots that appear on the body fades. It becomes light-colored patches after some weeks. The problem can clear completely within a few months. In some cases, the problem may persist for years. The problem is more noticeable with dark-skinned people. It is due to the fact the skin lesions never tan. So, it can pose self-image issues in the summer season.

Causes Of Pityriasis Alba

What exactly triggers the skin rash? It is the topic that still baffles the medical community. The exact reason for the issue isn’t known to dermatologists. But, it is known as the mild form of eczema. The common causes that trigger the skin rash are:



Atopic dermatitis can cause allergic reactions. Eczema is the skin condition caused by your overactive immune system. It happens due to the adverse reaction to irritants. The skin problem can reduce the skin’s ability to act as a barrier against harmful microorganisms. In normal cases, your immune system reacts to harmful substances like the virus or bacteria. But, in people suffering from eczema the ability gets lost. So, the immune system cannot distinguish between healthy and harmful substances. It starts attacking healthy elements. The attack can result in inflammation that has similarities to an allergic reaction. But, most cases resolve itself once the individual enters their early adulthood.

After Effects Of Acute Dermatitis

It can occur as the after-effects of skin inflammation. Once the issue of dermatitis heals, it leaves behind patches. The light section of the skin can mar the visual appeal of a person.

Overuse Of Topical Corticosteroids

Your doctor may prescribe topical corticosteroids for treating skin disorder like eczema. The overuse of the medication can result in pityriasis alba. So, the overuse can result in patchy rashes to become pale in color once they heal.

Genetic Disorder

Some genetic disorders can cause a loss of skin color. It is due to the low activity levels of melanocytes. The cells are responsible for the production of melanin. Melanin produces pigmentation to the skin. So, the disorder can result in pale lesions.

People At Risk Of Pityriasis Alba

Not every child is at risk of getting the skin rash. It appears in children between the age group of six and twelve years. But, some problems make children more vulnerable to the issue.

  • The children suffering from atopic dermatitis can get the issue.
  • Kids who take bath in hot water more frequently can suffer from the problem.
  • Children who play outside without sunscreen can get affected by the harmful exposure of the sun and get sun rashes.

Complications Due To Pityriasis Alba

The possible complication due to the skin rashes are:

  • The itching sensation commonly referred to as pruritus.
  • Hypopigmentation triggering cosmetic issues.

Diagnosis Of Pityriasis Alba

You need to contact your doctor to detect the problem accurately. As different skin disorders have similar symptoms, you need a professional diagnosis. It can eliminate the more complex issue. So, you can have peace of mind.

Medical Examination

Your dermatologist can understand the problem better with a complete physical examination. The medical professional can along check your medical history. It can eliminate the triggering of the skin rash due to medications or other illness.

Wood Light Examination

The test conducted by the dermatologist can detect the issue precisely. The handheld ultraviolet lamp can detect the difference of the skin color. So, the test conducted in the darkened room can shed light on the skin problem.

KOH Test

The potassium hydrochloride test uses the light scraping of the affected skin. The lab technician can test it under the microscope. So, the presence of fungus gets highlighted accurately. It can eliminate the presence of skin issues like tinea corporis (ringworm) or tinea versicolor.

Skin Biopsy

Skin Biopsy

The pathologist can detect the cancerous presence by examining the tissue sample under the microscope. Your doctor opts it when the other tests fail to give a proper conclusion. So, the skin biopsy can detect the issue with precision.

Since many health issues have similar symptoms, a doctor can make an accurate diagnosis. The clinical tests can rule out other health problem. Therefore, your healthcare provider can come at a conclusive diagnosis.

Treatment For Pityriasis Alba

In usual cases, the skin rash needs no treatment. It can go away after some time. You need to see a dermatologist assess the severity of the issue. In normal cases, simple home remedies can do the trick. So, the patches can go away after some months. The normal treatment options available for the affected people are:


People with a mild case of pityriasis alba needs the only application of moisturizers. The moisturizing cream can hydrate the skin. It also prevents dryness and associated irritation. So, the treatment is beneficial to you in case you have the mildest form of the skin rash.

Topical Steroid Cream

The steroid creams prescribed by the doctor can treat the condition. It reduces skin discoloration. So, the creams can also relieve the itchiness, scaling, and dryness. Hydrocortisone is one of the common creams that can alleviate the issue. It can also reduce the redness associated with the problem.

Non-Steroid Cream

The non-steroid cream is ideal even for babies. So, the doctor can prescribe it to reduce the itchiness and inflammation. Unlike the steroid cream that thins the skin, the non-steroid cream protects the skin. It can treat even the mild cases of eczema.

Use Of Ointments

The doctor can prescribe ointments that can clear the issue. The common ointments used to clear the problem are:

  • Cordran Cream
  • Zetron
  • Pragmatar
  • Lac-Hydrin

PUVA Therapy

The Psoralen an Ultraviolet A therapy uses the UV light to treat the skin disorders. It is ideal for various types of skin problems like:

  • Psoriasis
  • Eczema
  • Vitiligo

The UV light therapy sensitizes the skin using the drug psoralen. It is then subjected to the UV-A radiation.

Cosmetic Camouflage

The skin rash can lower your confidence as it mars your visual appeal. Therefore, cosmetic camouflage is the best way to approach. It is the method that applies make creams, powders, etc. to conceal the skin irregularities. You can adapt the technique to conceal the abnormalities of the body or face. So, you can cover several skin issues like acne, spots, bruises, redness, etc. it is the ideal option for people who suffer from psychological issues due to skin imperfections. You can regain confidence and feel beautiful. It will help you get back to your social life.

Even with the above-mentioned treatment options, the patches have the possibility to reoccur. Understand the problem is not severe. It can go away by the time your child reaches adulthood.

Preventing Pityriasis Alba

You can adopt some steps in your child’s life to prevent the skin rash. The easy to follow steps at home can avoid an embarrassing skin problem. So, it will help you maintain your self-confidence. The preventive measure includes:

Use Non-Soap Cleansers

Using soap-based cleansers can irritate the skin. The soap can remove the dirt and oil from the surface of the skin. But, the surfactants can affect your outermost skin layer. So, the soap-based cleansers can trigger redness, irritation, and dryness. It also affects the skin’s natural function of protecting against harmful elements. The ideal solution is to use non-soap cleansers. It not only keeps the skin clean but also prevents irritation.


You can include moisturizers in your skincare regime. Using the moisturizers can restore the moisture. So, your skin can rehydrate after the cleansing strips away the essential oils and hydration from the skin. Without the moisturizers, your skin can get dry. Dry skin can lead to irritation and other skin problems. Therefore, you can include a moisturizer for the face and other areas of the body. It will seep into the skin pores and keep it healthy. Kids with dry skin need to moisturize regularly to avoid any skin problems.

Avoid Creams With Strong Fragrance

The fragrance ingredient in the crams and ointment can trigger a volatile reaction in your body. In most cases, the scent imparting ingredient can trigger irritation as well as inflammation. Different researches have established the fact that the fragrance can affect the skin adversely. It is the most common cause of allergic reactions. Therefore, you need to avoid such products from your child’s life. Always opt for creams or ointment with little or no fragrance.

Use Sunscreen

For people prone to skin rashes, avoiding sunlight can provide relief. Minimizing the exposure to skin ca prevent several skin problems. But, it is not possible to avoid the sun entirely. Therefore, a much suitable option is to use sunscreen. The sunscreen lotions or creams protect the skin from the harmful radiations. So, your skins get protected from several issues like:

  • Premature Aging
  • Fine Lines
  • Wrinkles
  • Spots
  • Leathery Skin
  • Sun Burn
  • Irritation

It also prevents a fatal issue like skin cancer. The active ingredients in the sunscreen can absorb UV radiation (Ultraviolet). So, it does not reach the deep layers of your skin. Therefore, the sunscreen acts as a protective shield. It reflects the radiation and keeps the skin safe.


Pityriasis Alba is a common skin condition that resolves without any complication. It can clear on its own spontaneously. You can see the skin color returning to its normal without any scarring. You can get treatment to clear the condition quickly. With proper treatment, it takes a few months to a year to clear the issue. If you choose to ignore it, then it may not cause any harm to your health. It may come and go for a few years. So, the irritating issue can cause you embarrassment. The problem is more prone during the summertime. Therefore, get advice from your dermatologist to overcome the issue with ease.

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