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Skin Care and Diseases

Spontaneous skin lightening

02/23/2006

Question:

I am the mother of a 9-year-old African American boy. Over the past few months we have noticed the lightening of parts of his face, mainly around the cheek area, and it has become more and more noticable over the past few months. There aren`t any bumps are rashes, and he doesn`t complain of discomfort. He is a vegetarian and eats a healthy diet that is supplemented by vitamins. Can you offer any conclusions as to the cause of the discoloration?

Answer:

It is difficult to tell you precisely what your son has without physical examination and/or biopsy.  Complete loss of color with an ivory white base, first beginning around the eyes, mouth, nose, umbilicus, genitals and tips of the fingers and toes would suggest a diagnosis of vitiligo.  However, less prominent loss of color have been associated with low-grade inflammatory disorders, or they  may be simply benign changes that go with your son's genetic background.  It is important that your son be evaluated by a board certified dermatologist, preferabaly a pediatric dermatologist so that an accurate diagnosis can be established.  I seriously doubt that this is related to anything that he eats or drinks.  Pediatric dermatologists can be found in most medical centers in the United States by calling the Children's Hospital in your community.

Hope this helps.

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Response by:

Charles L Heaton, MD
Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati