How to Treat White Spots on Skin


If you’ve spent a lot of time in the sun, you may start to see your sun-worshiping ways reflected on your skin. Too much exposure to the harmful rays of the sun can cause sun damage, and your skin begins to show the signs quickly. The telltale signs of sun damage are dark spots, or age spots, and with more extensive damage, white spots, which can begin to appear on your skin after years in the sun without adequate protection. These spots—called idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis (IGH)—are generally relatively small, but can be unsightly. Thankfully, there are ways to treat the spots and give your skin the younger, more even, radiant glow we all aim for.

Steps for Prevention of White Spots on Skin

Before anything else, you’ll want to think about prevention. Even if you’ve already developed white spots on your skin, protecting your skin from further sun damage is vital. A chic sunhat is a fashionable solution for keeping the sun off your face and shoulders, but it’s no replacement for sunscreen. Wearing sunscreen with a minimum protection of SPF 30 is essential; in fact, there is relatively no difference in how much sun protection you receive between a sunscreen with SPF 30 and one with a higher SPF. Sheer Fluid Sun Shield Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen is the ideal sunscreen for protecting your skin while also providing anti-aging benefits. This weightless broad spectrum sunscreen protects skin from harmful UV rays and treats it with plant extracts and plant-derived stem cells to improve your skin’s radiance and reduce the appearance of current sun damage. Even better, it works as a primer, allowing your makeup to glide on without the greasy finish of most sunscreens. A sunscreen that prevents further damage while also treating your skin is worth its weight in gold.

Treatments for White Spots on Skin

Now that you know how to guard your skin from additional UV damage, it’s time to treat the appearance of the white spots already present on your skin. Though you can treat brown spots with brightening creams and antioxidants, white spots are different. White spots are an absence of pigment, and it’s rarely possible to make the pigment return to your skin. You may not be able to reverse the loss of pigment in your skin, but you can treat the spots by evening the overall appearance of your skin, which makes spots less evident. You can also prevent the white spots from expanding by protecting your skin with a broad spectrum sunscreen at all times. In addition to keeping your existing white spots from growing and reducing the contrast between the white spots and your regular skin tone, sunscreen prevents further damage to your skin and helps stop additional white spots from developing.

When you look for skincare that will provide you with a brightened, more even looking skin tone, look for products with active ingredients that polish (our way of saying exfoliate, since this process should also be gentle on your skin) damaged skin to reveal fresher, younger-looking skin. A cream with glycolic acid, like Dr. Lancer’s Retexturizing Treatment, can help reduce the appearance of discoloration and give your skin a smoother appearance. The 10% glycolic acid exfoliates skin to reveal glowing, younger-looking skin and a more even skin tone, counteracting the aging effect of sun-damaged skin. Because glycolic acid is a powerful Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA), this treatment also includes antioxidants and humectants to improve your skin’s hydration and lock in necessary moisture to maintain your bright, radiant look. When using an AHA, be extra vigilant about applying sunscreen, wearing protective clothing, and wearing a sunhat as your skin will be more sensitive to the sun.

Vitamin C is also a popular antioxidant for providing a brightened tone and addressing hyperpigmentation. While Vitamin C won’t eliminate your white spots, it will even your overall tone and help lessen the darker spots surrounding the white spots, helping them appear less noticeable. Advanced C Radiance Treatment Cream is a powerful combination of 10% Vitamin C and retinol. Retinol helps exfoliate damaged, discolored skin, while Vitamin C reduces the appearance of hyperpigmentation for even skin. The combination of these two ingredients boosts skin cell regeneration and reduces the appearance of sun damage, while rich Shea butter soothes skin with luxurious moisture for refreshed, younger-looking skin. White spots will be less conspicuous and your skin will appear brightened and renewed.

If you’ve used skincare with powerful antioxidants and AHAs for brighter, more even looking skin, but you still wish to pursue further treatments, there are other options. An experienced dermatologist, like Dr. Harold Lancer, can assess your skin properly and proceed with treatments ideal for your skin.

Since you generally cannot correct the loss of pigment that causes white spots, you must instead treat the skin surrounding the spots. IPL—or Intense Pulsed Light—can be used to target and treat sun-damaged skin. This works by fading the darker skin surrounding the white spots, allowing the spots to blend in better with the rest of your skin.

You can also try topical treatments to hide the differentiation in pigment. If you’d like to try on your own, you can carefully apply a self-tanner directly to the white spot. Use a small concealer brush or cotton swab to apply the self-tanner to the white spot itself, being meticulous about avoiding the darker skin surrounding it. Give it a chance to develop before deciding if you need another application. Though it may not be an exact match, it may make the spot blend in just enough with the rest of your skin to make it less obvious.

Another topical treatment is a medication called tacrolimus, an ointment normally used for eczema. This prescription treatment is not to be taken lightly since it’s an immunosuppressant. Still, it was shown to improve the appearance of IGH white spots in 11% of patients in a double blind study. If you’ve tried other methods and want to pursue this treatment, see your dermatologist.

Regardless of how you choose to treat your white spots, experts agree that sunscreen is the number one choice for preventing IGH and minimizing the appearance and growth of white spots on the skin. Sun damage can have lasting effects, but it is possible to treat and prevent further damage with the right sunscreen and skincare treatments.