Small white spots on arms (Idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis), Liver spots on the skin of an old person.

Disease, in simple words, is the unhealthy deviation from the organism’s standard structural or functional condition. A human in a diseased state generally shows many signs or symptoms, differentiating them from those in a normal state. Sometimes, these differentiations are not apparent. Sometimes, identifying the symptoms of a disease is easy; however, in many cases, such identification takes a long time.

The study of disease is vital in medical science. The study involves identifying the causes of diseases, the devolvement, and the structural changes regarding the disease process. Proper identification of these is an absolute necessity for the treatment of diseases. For idiopathic or innate diseases, the initial cause lies within the organism, and sometimes the causes are uncertain.  

Here in this guide, we are going to know all about Idiopathic Guttate Hypomelanosis.

Idiopathic Guttate Hypomelanosis_creativeaditi

What are idiopathic diseases?

With any unknown cause or mechanisms, idiopathic diseases can be severe medical conditions. The recent studies can identify a few of the reasons for these diseases. It seems that idiopathic diseases readily respond to many drugs like antiepileptic drugs. Some common idiopathic diseases are idiopathic polyneuritis, idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and many more.

Idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis- a brief idea

The idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis, shortly IGH, is a skin condition covered by spots of unpigmented skin. This disease is not harmful and does not even show any early symptoms. It is common among older people who have fair toned skin and is often unrecognizable. It is also not correctly diagnosed due to the harmlessness of the disease.

The idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis is an aesthetically displeasing disease that marks the skin due to lesions or damaging skin tissue; however, it is not dangerous and does not remit. The professional giving treatment for this generally aims for improving the restoration of damaged tissues.

Features of Idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis

The size of spots varies from one to ten millimetres, but most have a maximum diameter of three millimetres. These spots are most familiar to the sun-exposed body parts like forearms, V of the chest and shins. However, there are spots in the sun-protected areas too. The number of patches in the skin increases with time, but the individual spots remain unaltered and cause no symptoms.

The lesions do not usually have fixed shape, size, pattern or grouping. There is an unaltered pigmentation in hairs within the lesions. The lesions are usually smooth; however, there are reports of scaly and hyperkeratotic lesions. The spots are usually white and have a common name, white sunspots.

White spots on SKin _ Vitiligo_ creativeaditi

Distribution and occurrence

The idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis can occur in all types of races and people with different skin colours. For example, it occurs in fair-skinned people; however, it is also there in dark-skinned people. There are previous conceptions that this disease occurs more in women, but the presence of the diseases in men is also familiar. Such conception is mainly due to highlighted cosmetic problems in women.

In any case, the occurrence increases with age; it is present in about 80% of people above 70. It is also present in people having age older than 40. Young people between the age of 20 to 30 years also have lesions in their bodies. The condition is expected mainly in those having long term sun exposure. The number of spots is about thirteen per person; however, studies show people with more than 100 spots.

Causes of Idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis

As the name suggests, there is no known reason for this disease. There are many theories behind the cause of this disease; however, the main reason is yet to be understood. Some of the possible reasons are:

  • The white spots can occur due to the reduction of melanin in the skin.
  • Sometimes there are genetic causes, as the disease has been occurring in the family.
  • The ultraviolet ray exposure can also cause idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis (sunspots).
  • Sometimes this can occur due to less vascular supply.
  • The Autoimmune system of the body can also cause lesions in the skin.

Diagnosis of Idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis

The doctors clinically carry out the diagnosis of idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis by visual inspection alone. Sometimes they suggest skin biopsies; however, these are usually unnecessary. There is a drop in the number of epidermal melanocytes, DOPA-positive but not absent, as in vitiligo. In addition, there is an overall decrease in melanin pigmentation, which is best understood when compared to the normal epidermis.

Additionally, there is a reduction in melanosomes as well as dendrites. These can also be orthokeratosis in the overlying stratum.

White spots on skin_ Vitiligo

Treatments for Idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis

IGH is usually harmless, and there is no evidence of it causing skin cancer or any other health concerns. However, the white spots can cause other medical conditions like a fungal infection. Hence treating it can be necessary sometimes. There are various ways of treating idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis. The most common ways are professional treatments and over-the-counter or OTC creams.

Treating the spots is not an easy task. The home remedy takes an extended period, and however, professional treatments can yield faster results. Whatever be the treatment, the spots do not fade out totally.

A brief idea about OTC treatment

There are two over-the-counter treatments for white sunspots.

  • Topical Steroid Creams

These creams contain corticosteroids and help reduce the spots. The OTC creams have different strengths; the milder ones like hydrocortisone are easily purchasable, while the stronger ones require a prescription.

  • Topical retinoid creams

These creams help in cell restoration and help to decrease skin discolouration. The most commonly used types are retinol and tretinoin.

Professional treatment for Idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis

The treatment of idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis carried out by professionals have more significant impacts and treats the deeper layers of skin than those treated by OTC methods.

  • Cryotherapy

This treatment involves applying liquid nitrogen to the sunspots with a cotton applicator for about 10 seconds. Liquid nitrogen leads to the freezing of skin and thus improves the production of melanocytes.

  • Laser treatments

The laser treatment helps fade the white sunspots. The lasers like Excimer, used to create pigment-producing cells, led to the massive increase of pigmentation in people with IGH. The risks of side effects are comparatively low, as the laser uses only UV radiation for this purpose.

  • Chemical peels

The chemical peels help remove the upper layer of the skin and damage the skin for triggering its natural healing, thus causing repigmentation. As a result, the peel treatments improve the skin tone a lot but can also cause redness in the skin.

  • Dermabrasion

Dermabrasion removes the outer layer of skin and reveals the inner skin beneath. Thus, for treating the IGH, dermabrasion triggers the melanin production of the body. As a result, the dermabrasion causes significant repigmentation. However, the patients have to experience skin redness lasting for six months.

What are the home treatments for Idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis?

There are a lot of idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis natural remedies. This treatment may help to fade and, in some cases, altogether remove the sunspots.

  • Aloe Vera

Medical studies suggest that aloesin and aloin, present in aloe vera, helps lighten the sunspots.

Aloe Vera_ Creative Aditi

  • Green tea

Applying green tea bags to the skin helps reduce the sunspots; however, this treatment lacks conclusive evidence.

Everything You Need to Know About Idiopathic Guttate Hypomelanosis 1

  • Black tea water

Black tea also has lightning effects when applied to the sunspots.

  • Honey

Containing many antibiotics, honey is beneficial as a skin product and helps fade the IGH.

  • Buttermilk

The lactic acid present in it reduces the IGH to some extent.

  • Lemon juice

Lemon juice is also a famous home remedy for fading sunspots; however, its acidic nature can dry the skin and sometimes irritate the skin or eyes.  

Everything You Need to Know About Idiopathic Guttate Hypomelanosis 2

  • Milk

The lactic present in the milk lightens the sunspots. Therefore, sour milk is more effective in treating those spots.

  • Other ingredients

Other ingredients like cabbage juice, fresh ginger, and apple cider vinegar are also helpful in reducing sunspots.

To sum it up

IGH is real aesthetic displeasure for many people. Due to its harmlessness, many people do not treat this disease. Many suggestions are there for treatment, but the proper treatment for removing the spots is yet known. The lack of proper treatment and the unknown reason behind its cause, fading IGH from the skin is tough. However, people can stop this disease with proper skincare and using covered clothes while going out.

Frequently asked Questions

  • How to get rid of idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis?

There is no proper treatment for the complete removal of IGH. However, some treatment procedures like OTC creams, professional treatments, and a few home remedies fade the sunspots to a great extent. The OTC creams like topical steroid and topical retinoid fade the spots to some extent. The professional treatments include dermabrasion, cryotherapy, laser treatments, chemical peels and many more.

  •  How do you treat idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis naturally?

Various natural treatment procedures address IGH by using some common ingredients. Cabbage juice, Onion juice, green tea, milk, black tea are well known natural procedures to remove these spots. However, despite some evidence regarding the treatment by these natural processes, there is no scientific proof behind all these.

  • Can apple cider vinegar remove sunspots?

The acetic acid in apple cider vinegar lightens the sunspots. Therefore, to get the usefulness of this remedy, we need to combine equal amounts of apple cider vinegar and water in the container and apply to the sunspots, and after that, rinsing with moderately warm. By repeating this procedure twice regularly, you can obtain the desired results.


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