Ask Dr. Bailey: White spots on the arms and legs

askdoctorbailey2Dermatologist Dr. Cynthia Bailey answers your questions about skin care and skin problems

Dear Dr. Bailey,

I love the information in your blogs.  I have a question about white spots that are on my arms and legs.  They don’t tan, are they a form of skin cancer?

Thank you, looking forward to reading more info on your blog,

Vicki

Dear Vicki,

The most common cause of white spots on the arms and legs is guttate hyopmelanotic macules.  This long name actually refers to a very simple condition-the flat little white spots that start showing up around middle age.  They are smooth surfaced, slightly shiny and don’t itch or hurt.  They are entirely benign and don’t become cancer or anything other than a decorative nuisance.  They don’t tan and they still show up when a person uses fake tanners.

Guttate hypomelanotic macules are usually seen on the outside of the arms and the legs.  They are especially likely to be seen in people who have had a lot of sun exposure during their lifetime, leading us to believe that they are somehow a part of sun damage.  I usually also see the brown sun spots (the age spots that are actually sun freckles due to sun damage) on a person’s skin when I see guttate hypomelanotic macules.

Doctors don’t know why people get these little spots and they are impossible to fix.  They can’t be burned off, scraped off or lasered.  I recommend that people exfoliate their skin with my Anti Aging Body Kit because in my experience it helps a little. I discovered that it seemed to slow how quickly I was developing guttate hypomelanotic macules on my own skin and now I recommend that patients use the kit for the same reason.

Not seeing your white spots I can’t be certain that you have guttate hypomelanotic macules.  The information I’ve just given is inspired by your question, but you need to see your doctor for an exact diagnosis.  There are other causes of white spots on the skin, some are common and some are rare, some have important health implications and others don’t.

Even though I can’t guarantee that this information fits your specific situation, I hope you’ve found it interesting and helpful.

Warm Regards,

Cynthia Bailey MD, Dermatologist

To send me your skin care questions or to ask me to address a specific dermatology topic, please use the  ‘Contact Dr. Bailey page’ on the left sidebar or click here to load the page.

Disclaimer: Please realize that availing yourself of the opportunity to submit and receive answers to your questions from Dr. Bailey does not confer a doctor/patient relationship with Dr. Bailey. The information provided by Dr. Bailey is general health information inspired by your question. It should not be a substitute for obtaining medical advice from your physician and is not intended to diagnose or treat any specific medical problem (and is not an extension of the care Dr. Bailey has provided in her office for existing patients of her practice). Never ignore your own doctor’s advice because of something you read here; this information is for general informational purpose only.

If you found this information helpful, you may also want to read:

Early Skin Cancer Detection Saves Lives; You Need An Annual Full Skin Exam

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