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

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

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