White Patches On A Baby’s Cheeks Could Be Pityriasis Alba

I have a question about my 14-month-old. He is African American and has light blotches on his cheeks. After looking in a few books, it seems that he may have pityriasis alba. Is there anything I can do? I notice that when he wakes up the blotches are red. For now I just apply a few coats of Aquaphor to the area.

White Patches On A Baby’s Cheeks Could Be Pityriasis Alba

Dr. Greene’s Answer:

I bet your 14-month-old is adorable. White patches on the face at that age are quite common. Sounds like you’ve done your homework about them!

Pityriasis alba (which is Latin for white, scaly patches), is the most common cause. Children develop uneven round or oval patches, especially after sun exposure. The patches are dry with very fine scales. They are most common on the face (cheeks), neck, upper trunk, and upper arms of children 3 to 16 years old.

These are completely benign, similar to a mild form of eczema. They are most common in children with dry skin. The involved patches don’t darken with sun exposure the way the surrounding skin does. Treatment involves daily lubrication with a good moisturizer such as Aquaphor, especially whenever the skin gets wet. Sometimes mild topical steroid creams help (1% hydrocortisone).

Even with no treatment at all, the spots will disappear on their own — although it may take months to years. Some people get pityriasis alba every summer during childhood. Even then, the pigmentation will eventually end up normal.

If this doesn’t sound like your son, tinea versicolor is another common cause — though it is usually found in older children. This is similar to athlete’s foot and needs an antifungal medication or a selenium shampoo for treatment.

With either pityriasis alba or tinea versicolor, even when the condition is effectively treated, the white patches will remain for a while. At least several weeks must pass for the newly healthy skin to adjust its color to the amount of ongoing sunlight exposure so that it will match the surrounding skin.

At your son’s upcoming 15-month-old well child exam, it would be wise to ask the doctor about the patches, just to be sure what they are.

Dr. Alan Greene

Dr. Greene is the founder of DrGreene.com (cited by the AMA as “the pioneer physician Web site”), a practicing pediatrician, father of four, & author of Raising Baby Green & Feeding Baby Green. He appears frequently in the media including such venues as the The New York Times, the TODAY Show, Good Morning America, & the Dr. Oz Show.

  1. Mohammed ansaar Jani

    Hi sir.
    My 6 month old daughter she have white spots on cheek and back side. We are from hyderabad I all ready consult the doctor I have applied this cream PLOFONE OINTMENT but still now it’s not cure.pls help me.

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  2. javon haynes

    I have a two month old baby girl and she got white spots all over her face and i was given hydrocine 1% and it made it worse wat should i do now?

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  3. Ajay

    Hi Doctor,

    My Daughter who is 6 years and 8 months has uneven white patches on the face especially on cheeks,nose and forehead.They are not itchy or scaly.
    My wife is using 1% hydrocortisone regularly. But there is no improvement till date.

    Can you please suggest alternative treatment.

    Thank you,

    Ajay

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  4. talia dessoye

    My 6 week old son has white blotches on his face. He is African American. I dont know what it is or where it could have came from but I can sure use some help.

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  5. Srikanth

    Hi Sir,

    Our son is 6 months old and has white spots around his mouth. We are using Spectro moisturizing cream and we hardly get a chance to expose to sun as we reside in a cold country. Could you please suggest the remedy for this. Please do let us know, if you want us to share the pics.
    Thanks in advance.
    -Srikanth

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    • poonam singh

      my baby is 2 year old she got white patches on both cheeks is it common problem or pls give me any suggestion to Remove the patches.

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  6. Sheetal

    Greetings,
    Sir, my son is 5 months old and he has got red patch on his cheek which is rough to touch and also sometimes water comes out from the infected area. Please suggest what do I need to do for this..??
    Many thanks….

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  7. Ching

    Greetings!
    Sir, I’m already 16 years of age and seems to me that these whit spots on my face is kinda decreasing my self-confidence. It started years ago when my family and I had this beach bonding. Since that day, white spots are appearing on my left cheek. I was actually around 8 or 9 years old at that time. With little knowledge, I appeared to let such thing pass by.
    As the years went by, more and more spots are actually appearing on my right cheek. And Sir with such regrets, white spots are also appearing on my left cheek. In addition, my parents noticed that my skin is dry and it doesn’t glow like it was before.
    I think it was just yesterday or this morning, that two spots appeared right beside my lips. And it is REALLY a big problem for me as a student and a teen.
    I don’t want to cost my parents to pay such price on expensive products. I am actually reading articles about this kind of topic but still I am not someone to just follow steps that I am not even sure if it is applicable in my situation.

    Sir, I thank you, for reading my message and call for advice.
    I am hoping for you response. I am really sorry for my grammatical errors. I am not from any English speaking country (western countries).

    Once again, thank you and God Bless!

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  8. ankita kriti

    sir my daughter has spots or white patches on right side of face and on forehead .
    I m giving u photo to identify ,treatment was done but no benefit

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  9. surabhi singh

    My child is at age of 26th months she got white patches on both cheeks is it common problem or pls give me any suggestion to Remove the patches.

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  10. surabhi singh

    my baby is 2 year old she got white patches on both cheeks is it common problem or pls give me any suggestion to Remove the patches.

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  11. sneh

    My 12 years old son has some white spots on his cheeks. Please suggest the treatment

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  12. deep

    Respected sir my son is 5years old .before six months he got a white spot on his chin .now a little spot appearing on cheeks. he already under treatment. But I am worried about that any other helpful tips for cure that plz.many thanks.

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  13. Prabhu

    Hi doctor, i am from india and my daughter of 2.5 years old is having white patch near to her ear. Could you please guide us? I can send you the photograph, please let me know how to send it?

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  14. safalta rathore

    My daughter is 5 yr old she has white patches on her nack and sholder.its start appier on after summer .

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  15. Mohammed Tonik

    I have one 1 month old daughter, 4days after birth one red color transparent spot appear on her right check near upper lips and it’s day by day become extended. In this view, could you please give some idea what to do? Looking forward for kind support in this matter.

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    • Mohammed Tonik

      Please response my request.

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  16. prasad

    Hi, I have a baby of 6months old. She is has little white patches on her face. We consulted the GP and they said, “don’t expose baby’s face to direct sun”. Whats the solution for this?? We are using Johnson and Johnson baby oil aloe vera, n moisture cream. Please suggest the best.
    Thank you

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  17. Priyanka

    My child is at age of 14th months she got white patches beside the mouth is it common problem or pls give me any suggestion to Remove the patches

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    • Nishigandha

      My child is at age of 14th months she got white patches on cheeks is it common problem or pls give me any suggestion to Remove the patches

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  18. Michelle

    My 2 1/2 year old has some white spots on her left foot that were not there previously. Is this something that I have to worry about it? What causes this and will it go away? It is on the ankle bone and across the top of the foot. Thanks in advance.

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  19. aparna

    My doctor has given Desowen for my son, as he is having white spots on his face, due to dryness. Is it the best cream or should I use hydrocortisone cream?

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