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5 Causes of White Spots, Dots or Patches on Legs

June 20, 2018

Are you seeing white spots on your legs? Are they the legs alone, or have you noted on the arms, thigh, calves, neck, face, back, and other parts of your body?

Overview

White spots on legs and sometimes on the arms have become very common today. While some of them shouldn’t cause any worry, others might signify the onset of a health condition that requires your attention.

To make it all clear, unless you know what their cause is, it is good to identify their cause. Do not ignore them. Note that most of the white spots or patches on your legs are mainly associated with five causes we are going to discuss in this post.

Whereas, few people have associated this skin condition on legs to causes such as inadequate blood circulation, pregnancy, or skin cancer. This is, however, rarely the cause. Only a very small percentage would have white-colored spots on their legs from any of these conditions.

There have been reports by a few people of white spots on legs after a shower when standing or even after tanning. Also, to some people, these spots come and go while others are persistent.

Finally, the white dots, patches may also be itchy or non-itchy, painful or painless. Let us look at why they appear.

Why does the skin develop white patches, spots, or dots?

For you to notice a white dot, spot or patch on your skin, the area often has a different level of pigmentation than the rest of the skin. What does this tell you? The white patches or dots signify depigmentation. The spots tell you that melanin production is failing in those specific areas.

You should, therefore, tackle the problem by looking at why melanin production is failing. Generally, this is due to the deactivation of melanocytes. Melanocytes are melanin-producing cells located in the epidermis. The color you see on your skin is due to these melanocytes.

Any disease or infection affecting these melanocytes may cause white spots on the legs, alongside other body parts.

What is causing the white spots on the legs?

According to progressivehealth.com, melanocytes may fail to produce the skin pigment if infected by a disease, or if something is lacking.

Commonly, these spots on the skin are attributed to the following 5 conditions:

  • Excessive exposure to the sun
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Idiopathic Guttate Hypomelanosis
  • Tinea versicolor
  • Vitiligo
Excessive exposure to the sun

According to skinvision.com, sun exposure is one of the leading causes of hypopigmented spots on the legs, alongside other body parts. In most cases, people bask when wearing shorts. Most of your legs are exposed to direct sunlight.

Medically, prolonged exposure to the direct sun may damage some skin cells such as melanocytes. When melanocytes are overexposed to UV rays, they become deactivated. They, therefore, stop producing melanin. Areas of depigmentation, consequently, appear on your skin with a lighter shade such as white patches or spots.

However, UV rays may, however, disappear without any treatment. Most of them come and go. With time, these spots may darken, or even become brown in color. The darkening of these spots signifies that your skin cells are severely damaged.

You can treat such spots by applying some of the following lotions:

  • Hawaiian tropic cool Aloe after sun bun
  • Sunburnt therapeutic after sun relief
  • Banana boat Aloe after sun lotion
  • Burt’s Bees Aloe and Linden flower after sun soother
  • Sunburn cool down hydrating sunscreen
Vitamin B12 deficiency

Mayoclinic.org notes that vitamin B12 deficiency is rare since the body can store this vitamin for many years. However, people who strictly adhere to a vegetarian diet may have a deficiency of this important vitamin.

Why is it the case? Vitamin B12 is not contained in plant foods. Therefore, ensure that you take fish, dairy products, poultry, and meat in your diet. These are good sources of this vitamin. However, people with digestive tract infections suffer from Vitamin B12 deficiency.

Chronic deficiency of Vitamin B12 comes along with many health complications, among them are white colored spots on the skin including on your legs. Other complications may be because of this deficiency include:

  • Mood swings
  • Anemia
  • Fatigue
  • General body weakness
  • Nerve damage
Idiopathic Guttate Hypomelanosis

While some people call it white age spots, Idiopathic Guttate Hypomelanosis (IGH) is a harmless leukoderma. This condition comes along with white macules known as hypomelanosis.

These white spots look like freckles. They can appear on your legs alongside other body parts. However, they are commonly found on body parts that are exposed, such as the legs and arms. You may also see them on the shoulders, face, and neck. The dark-skinned people are at a higher risk of getting this skin condition.

In terms of appearance, the white dots or spots are small and circular. Although the causes remain unknown, prolonged exposure to sunlight is a significant risk factor. You don’t need to worry about spots from IGH as they are benign and painless.

In most cases, this condition is left untreated. It is very hard to reverse pigment loss. However, there are various treatment options that focus on preventing IGH from further spreading. These include:

  • Home remedies– This involves the use of various plants such as cabbage, figs, ginger, and walnut among other herbs to help manage IGH.
  • Skin grafting– This is the clinical removal of the pigmented cells and replacing them with the normal ones.
  • Camouflage- This involves the use of lotions and creams with the aim of hiding the depigmentation.
  • Cryotherapy– This involves freezing the skin cells in liquid nitrogen with the aim of activating the melanocytes.
  • Retinoid Creams– These creams are effective in making the skin peel off the old cells and rejuvenate the new ones.
  • Microdermabrasion- This is mechanically removing the skin’s top layer together with the affected cells.
Tinea versicolor

This is a common problem, especially among men. Tinea Versicolor is associated with fungal infections that lead to depigmentation. The common fungal infections that may cause white-colored patches or spots anywhere on the skin include:

  • Malassezia furfur
  • Malassezia globosa

For people with dark skin, the condition manifests in the form of white spots. However, the spots may appear dark for people with light skin. Commonly, Tinea versicolor is common in hot and humid areas. Initially, the spots are small. However, they may increase in size as they feed on the skin’s sebum.

According to healthline.com, tinea versicolor is basically treated with antifungal agents. However, it may take time for the white patches to disappear even after killing the fungi. Some of the topical antifungal agents that heal Tinea versicolor include:

  • Ciclopirox
  • Tolnaftate
  • Ketoconazole
  • Clotrimazole
Vitiligo

This is the most common skin disorder that comes along with skin depigmentation. The condition is attributed to the deactivation or destruction of melanocytes.

Like earlier noted in this article, melanocytes play a significant role in the production of melanin. Like you all know, melanin is responsible for your skin color. When you bask, sunlight activates these cells to produce melanin.

With the production of melanin, your skin is highly protected from UV rays. When melanocytes are deactivated, there is no production of melanin. This means that your skin is highly exposed to the harmful UV rays, thus depigmentation.

Vitiligo is non-contagious. It is estimated that about 2 % of the world’s population suffers from this skin condition. The main symptom of Vitiligo is the presence of white spots, especially on the legs and other body parts. However, the spots may be noted in other body parts that are rarely covered by the clothes. These body parts include:

  • Face
  • Scalp
  • Neck
  • Arms

Apart from the deactivation of melanocytes, vitiligo can be caused by other factors that include:

  • Genetic defects
  • Nerve damage
  • Autoimmune attack
  • Oxidative stress

Vitiligo causes a lot of stress for many people. The white areas on your skin may spread all over the body if left untreated. Therefore, ensure you seek the right treatment as well as home remedies to relieve vitiligo.

Some of the existing treatment options include:

  • Camouflaging the spots
  • Use of skin creams
  • Self-tanning lotions
  • Steroid creams
  • Light therapies
  • Surgical transplant