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Pityriasis Alba - Pictures, Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

Updated on July 9, 2014

Pityriasis Alba Pictures

What is Pityriasis Alba?

Pityriasis Alba is a common skin condition that generally affects children and young adults. It is characterized by the development of white patches of scaly rashes on the skin of the face which may also appear on the skin areas of the neck, arms and the upper chest. It is a self-limiting skin condition that usually resolves with ample application of skin moisturizer and creams.

Pityriasis Alba is a common skin disease among children usually by the time they have reached school age and may also occur in young adults. The peak onset at age is usually from 12 years of age and below with occasional occurrence in young adults. It is not a seasonal skin condition while the dryness of the skin affected tends to worsen during the cold weather and air is relatively dry. The skin patches on the face become more apparent during the summer months and when the rashes are exposed to the sun. Pityriasis Alba is prevalent in children between the age of 6 to 16 years and who are living in countries or places with tropical climate. It occurs without racial predilection although the development is prevalent among light skinned individuals and is more common in males than in females.

Pityriasis Alba is sometimes mistaken or confused with other skin condition such as tinea versicolor and vitiligo. Tinea versicolor can be ruled out with the comparison of skin flakes through identification of fungal elements which are not usually found in Pityriasis Alba. Vitiligo is differentiated from Pityriasis Alba through the borders of the rash presented. The rash in vitiligo is distinct from that of Pityriasis Alba where the border of the rash of vitiligo has sharp line while rash in Pityriasis Alba has fine edges between the normal skin and the light skin which makes it unnoticeable at times


Pityriasis Alba is marked by the onset of light colored patches on the surface of the skin particularly in the face and cheeks although it can also be noticed in the areas of the neck, arms and the upper chest. The skin patches have been made apparent during the winter months or cold season when the affected skin becomes dry due to the air condition inside the house. The skin patches become more apparent during the summer months when the patches are exposed to the sun and when the surrounding skin have darkened in color due to exposure under the sun.

The lesions or the patches are usually oval-shaped with a size of approximately 0.5 to 2cm in diameter and may have a diameter of approximately 4cm when patches developed in the body. The lesions usually have a light pink or light red color during the initial onset and turns into white or light color as the condition progresses. Multiple lesions may occur on the face with a number ranging from 5 to 20 lesions or sometimes more.

The development of the lesions usually takes 3 clinical stages and all stages are generally itchy for the affected individual.

Papular erythematous lesion

Papular erythematous lesion is the first stage that is often mild and characterized by redness which may go unnoticed by parents and significant others.

Papular hypochromic lesion

Papular hypochromic lesion is the second stage and is characterized raised lesions that have reddish discoloration. Itchiness is also present during this stage.

Smooth hypochromic lesion

Smooth hypochromic lesion is the third stage characterized by smooth and pale skin patches.

The erythema may become observable during the initial onset and may be accompanied by negligible crusting of the lesion. This characteristic of Pityriasis Alba during the early stage is usually unobservable and may go unnoticed.

The incidence of Pityriasis Alba may stay on for a month or up to 10 years with the average duration of one year or more in facial formation during childhood. The formation of lesions is usually limited in the face although in some cases, it can occur in the neck, arms and the upper chest including the trunk. It is rare for Pityriasis Alba not to affect the face with lesions distributed on the trunk and the limbs. Extensive Pityriasis Alba presented with numerous skin patches spread to the trunk and the limbs with more persistent lesions is common in older patients, although this seldom occurs.


The exact cause of Pityriasis Alba remains vague. No etiology can directly pinpoint the occurrence of skin patches although several factors are being considered to the onset including triggers that can influence the incidence.

Pityriasis Alba on the other hand is believed to be a mild form of atopic dermatitis or eczema. Eczema is a chronic inflammation of the skin and is usually a response of the immune system of the body. Eczema is also the general term for many types of skin inflammation and is believed to be a genetic defect that leads to the aberration in the function of the skin barrier. It is a chronic skin inflammation that is prevalent in infant and young children of any racial group.

Triggers influencing the incidence of Pityriasis Alba include the following:

  • Extreme heat or during the hot summer months.
  • Cold season or during winter where the skin patches become apparent from dry air inside the house.
  • Unprotected exposure under the sun
  • Smoke from cigarettes and from vehicular emission.
  • Poor and improper hygiene
  • The use of abrasive clothings that can irritate the skin.
  • Chemical substances and others that might come in contact with the skin.

Risk factors for Pityriasis Alba may include the following:

  • Children or individuals suffering from asthma
  • Dry skin condition
  • Allergic rhinitis
  • People living in tropical climate.


Pityriasis Alba is not a contagious disease and is not even an infectious disease. It is a self-limiting condition that is generally harmless and medically non-specific. Treatment however has not been identified to directly cure the skin condition as the cause remains vague.

The course of management in Pityriasis Alba is focused on improving the skin condition and keeping it moist to prevent further aggravation. The primary treatment consists of good general skin care and education of parents towards the nature of the disease which is self-limited, non-contagious and non-infectious.

The initial concern in treating Pityriasis Alba is to keep the skin moist through the application of emollient creams to reduce the erythema and pruritus. Application of sunscreen will not reduce the discoloration of the lesion itself but will protect the surrounding skin from darkening which can only make the skin patches prominent and worsen the cosmetic concern of an affected individual.


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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Good description


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