I have these white splotches all over my face. My mom is concerned it's the beginning of skin cancer, and my girlfriend says she doesn't want to date a guy with hole-punched skin. Is there anything else it could be? Is my condition permanent?
Dr. Dr. J. Carlton Gartner Jr. is a professor at Jefferson Medical College and vice chairman of pediatrics at Nemours/A.I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington.
The best way to help with this problem is for your physician to ask you about its history and then examine you directly.
I would want to know how long the "white splotches" have been present and whether your skin was normal previously. I would also want to know of any past sunburn, infection, or eczema on the face. When there has been some problem with the skin, such as an infection or eczema, sometimes the skin heals with a lighter (or darker) color, which we then term "post-inflammatory." This gets better with time; there really is no medicine to treat it.
Perhaps the most common reason for white splotches is a fungal infection known as tinea versicolor. Patients with this condition often have patches of lighter or darker skin in other areas, such as the chest or back, and the problem may be more easily seen in the summer, when the patches don't let skin tan normally. This infection is easy to
treat with shampoos, creams, or oral medicines, but it can take several weeks to get better. Your pediatrician or family doctor can check you for tinea versicolor and prescribe treatment.
Another possibility is vitiligo, which is more intensely "white" areas. This can be more difficult to treat and should be managed by a dermatologist.
None of the above are cancer. Cancer is very unusual for a teen and does not cause white splotches.
- Dr. Gartner with Inquirer staff writer Leila Haghighat