Whiter patches on darker skin types, what are these and how to treat them?

My biracial daughter is 17 and is a olive/white complexion. I am white and her dad is African American. She tans very nicely in the summer but winter lightens up considerably She recently developed some uneven patches on her skin. It looks almost dirty like if you gave it a good scrub it would come off. Could you possibly tell us what this is and how to treat it ? We are in a remote artic town in northern canada and unfortunately do not have access to a dermatologist. Thank you for considering my question.

Well there are a lot of things this could be but, in general, that grayish/whitish scale that you see is build up of the outer dead layer of the skin (stratum corneum).   But…….scrubbing this is usually NOT a good idea because the irritation from the scrubbing will cause darker skin types to make more pigment (hyperpigmentation) and uneven dark spots will appear.

A gentle cleanse daily with a Clarisonic may do the trick or gentle exfoliation with a 10% glycolic product (try the Glycolix 10% cream – we don’t have on SkinTour yet) at night with a light moisturizer in the morning.   It’s also important to not let skin with this problem get too dry.  If not successful though, there are other things that can cause this appearance and you may need a dermatologist or primary care doctor after all.

Hope this helps,  Dr. I

Dr. Brandith Irwin, MD

Ask me your skincare question!

Hi, I’m Dr. Irwin, and I believe that consumers need and deserve a medically trained and unbiased skincare advocate.

  • All our content is written and researched by myself and my trained staff.
  • My medical office in Seattle has experience treating thousands of patients.
  • This site is not affiliated or financially tied to any product line.
Ask Me Something
SkinTour Skincare
One of the best investments in your skin is your daily skincare. Why? Because you can prevent many problems with blotchy skin color, lack of glow, texture, some types of acne, and fine lines with good skincare products. You can also correct some of these problems with effective skincare products. Great skincare is often more expensive because quality ingredients are expensive. Some companies spend on research/development which benefits all of us and adds to the cost. Are they worth it? In general - yes!