However, white spots only rarely indicate skin cancer. White spots, or patches, on your skin are usually caused by either vitiligo or tinea versicolor. Eczema can also sometimes cause white patches. Vitiligo destroys cells that produce pigment for your skin.
What does it mean if you have white spots on your skin?
Vitiligo is a loss of skin pigment that causes white spots or patches to appear on the skin. No one knows exactly why this happens, but it affects people of all races, many of them kids and teens. Because vitiligo affects a person's appearance, it can be upsetting.
Squamous cell carcinomas may appear as flat reddish or brownish patches in the skin, often with a rough, scaly, or crusted surface. They tend to grow slowly and usually occur on sun-exposed areas of the body, such as the face, ears, neck, lips, and backs of the hands.
Many people reported that their lesions were both painful and itchy. Melanoma lesions were the least likely to be painful or itchy. Melanoma is much less common than basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers, but it is far more dangerous, according to the American Cancer Society.
Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer. Approximately 75 percent of all skin cancer deaths are due to melanomas, which may appear suddenly. They are most frequently found on the areas of the face, neck, arms, upper back and legs, but can occur anywhere on the body.
Vitiligo occurs when certain skin cells called melanocytes stop making melanin. Melanin is the pigment that gives color to your skin, hair, and eyes. Without pigment, white patches form. Vitiligo may be connected to genetics or autoimmune diseases, such as hyperthyroidism.
If your doctor determines you have skin cancer, you may have additional tests to determine the extent (stage) of the skin cancer. Because superficial skin cancers such as basal cell carcinoma rarely spread, a biopsy which removes the entire growth often is the only test needed to determine the cancer stage.
At first, a basal cell carcinoma comes up like a small "pearly" bump that looks like a flesh-colored mole or a pimple that doesn't go away. Sometimes these growths can look dark. Or you may also see shiny pink or red patches that are slightly scaly. Another symptom to watch out for is a waxy, hard skin growth.
Your face: Flat warts and long skinny warts that look like tiny fingers usually appear on your face. The bottoms of your feet: Warts that are large flat bumps on the bottoms of your feet are very common. They are called plantar warts because the bottom surface of the foot is called the "plantar surface."
What Does Psoriasis Look Like? Psoriasis usually appears as red or pink plaques of raised, thick, scaly skin. However it can also appear as small flat bumps, or large thick plaques, ,. It most commonly affects the skin on the elbows, knees, and scalp, though it can appear anywhere on the body.
If melanoma is recognized and treated early, it is almost always curable, but if it is not, the cancer can advance and spread to other parts of the body, where it becomes hard to treat and can be fatal. While it is not the most common of the skin cancers, it causes the most deaths.
Melanoma can also start in the eye, the intestines, or other areas of the body with pigmented tissues. Often the first sign of melanoma is a change in the shape, color, size, or feel of an existing mole. However, melanoma may also appear as a new mole. The pigment may spread into the surrounding skin.
Non-melanomaskin cancers that can look like a wart. Squamous cell carcinoma is the second mostcommon type of skin cancer. It forms when squamous cells begin to growuncontrollably in the top layers of the skin, called the epidermis.
Use the “ABCDE rule” to look for some of the common signs of melanoma, one of the deadliest forms of skin cancer:
- Asymmetry. One part of a mole or birthmark doesn't match the other.
- Border. The edges are irregular, ragged, notched, or blurred.
Although there are several things that can cause the white spots on the skin, odds are it's a fungus known as “tinea versicolor.'' Sun exposure makes the spots more noticeable, and they often fade as your suntan does. Why? Because the fungus acts like a sunscreen and prevents darkening of affected skin.
Age spots — also called liver spots and solar lentigines — are small dark areas on your skin. They vary in size and usually appear on the face, hands, shoulders and arms — areas most exposed to the sun. Age spots are very common in adults older than 50. Age spots can look like cancerous growths.
Border: The border or edges of the mole are ragged, blurred, or irregular. Color: The mole has different colors or it has shades of tan, brown, black, blue, white, or red. Diameter: The diameter of the mole is larger than the eraser of a pencil.
The ABCDE rule is another guide to the usual signs of melanoma. Be on the lookout and tell your doctor about spots that have any of the following features: A is for Asymmetry: One half of a mole or birthmark does not match the other. B is for Border: The edges are irregular, ragged, notched, or blurred.
Melanoma can be deadly if it spreads throughout the body. However, if caught early, the cure rate is high. In rare cases, basal and squamous cell skin cancer can be life threatening. Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) are usually not fatal.
Moles occur when cells in the skin grow in a cluster instead of being spread throughout the skin. These cells are called melanocytes, and they make the pigment that gives skin its natural color. Moles may darken after exposure to the sun, during the teen years, and during pregnancy.
Treatment. There is no "cure" for vitiligo. Sometimes patches go away on their own. But when that doesn't happen, doctors can prescribe treatments that might help even out skin tone.
Although it can start at any age, vitiligo often first appears between the ages of 20 and 30. The white patches may begin on your face above your eyes or on your neck, armpits, elbows, genitalia, hands or knees. They're often symmetrical and can spread over your entire body.