What is pityriasis alba?

Pityriasis alba in children: Overview

Pityriasis alba is a common skin condition that occurs mainly in children. It causes slightly scaly, round or oval patches on the skin. The patches may look slightly pink at first. Later they fade to leave areas that are lighter than the other skin. They most often appear on the face, neck, upper arms, or upper part of the body. The cause of pityriasis alba is not known.

The patches aren't harmful. They may be more noticeable in children with darker skin.

Pityriasis alba usually goes away without treatment. It may take a few months or years for the color in your child's skin to return to normal. Using moisturizers, creams, or petroleum jelly may help relieve dry or itchy skin.

What are the symptoms of pityriasis alba?

Pityriasis alba usually doesn't cause symptoms. In some cases, it may be itchy.

It causes slightly scaly, round or oval patches on the skin. The patches may look slightly pink at first. Later they fade to leave areas that are lighter than the other skin. They most often appear on the face, neck, upper arms, or upper part of the body. It may take some time, but the skin will return to its normal color.

How is pityriasis alba treated?

Pityriasis alba most often goes away without treatment. It may take a few months or years for the color of the skin to return to normal.

Using a moisturizer, cream, or petroleum jelly can help relieve dry skin. If itching is a problem, talk to your doctor about what medicine might work best. Your doctor may suggest steroid creams. These can help if the skin is itchy or irritated.

Protect your skin from the sun. For example, stay out of the sun during midday hours, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen, and wear sun-protective clothing.

How is pityriasis alba diagnosed?

A doctor usually can tell if you have pityriasis alba just by looking at your skin. To rule out other problems, a light called a Wood's lamp may be used to look more closely at your skin. Or your doctor may lightly scrape the surface of the patch to check a few skin cells.

How can you care for pityriasis alba in children?

  • Use a moisturizer or cream on your child's skin right after a bath to help with dry skin.
  • If itching is a problem, talk to your doctor about what medicine might work best. Your doctor may suggest steroid creams. These can help if the skin is itchy or irritated.
  • If the doctor gave your child a prescription medicine, use it exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think your child is having a problem with a medicine.
  • Protect your child's skin from too much sun. For example, have your child stay out of the sun during midday hours, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen, and wear sun-protective clothing.

What causes pityriasis alba?

The cause of this skin problem is not known. But it may be related to sun exposure or dry skin.

What is pityriasis alba?

Pityriasis alba (say "pih-tih-RY-uh-sus AL-buh") is a common skin problem that causes round or oval patches of skin that look lighter than the rest of the skin. The patches may look pink or slightly scaly at first.

How the patches look may bother you, but they aren't harmful. Over time, the patches fade and the color of your skin returns to normal.

This skin problem is most common in children. But anyone can get it. The patches may be more noticeable in people with darker skin.

Pityriasis alba in children: When to call

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You have any questions or concerns about your child's condition.
  • Your child does not get better as expected.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.