Ever noticed tiny white spots on your child's skin? Ever wondered what they are and how they can be treated? We sat down with Pharmacist Nazatul Amira Hamzah from Primabumi Sdn Bhd to learn more about what parents should know about white spots and what they can do to help their child if they have the condition. Nazatul is a qualified pharmacist with 10 years of experience in pharmacy practice involving both hospital and community settings. She currently holds the position of Pharmacist and Key Account Manager at a renowned pharmaceutical company in Kuala Lumpur. Here's what a pharmacist wants you to know about white spots. My child developed some white spots on their skin after returning from school. What are they? The white spots may be a type of fungal skin infection called tinea versicolor (also referred to as pityriasis versicolor). The condition is caused by the overgrowth of a type of yeast naturally found on the skin. People with tinea versicolor develop small, round patches that are white, yellow, red, pink, or brown in colour. These spots are often found on the face, shoulders, upper back, abdomen, and chest. Vitiligo, an autoimmune condition, can be mistaken for tinea versicolor, as both of them manifest as white spots. However, in vitiligo, the spots tend to appear on different parts of the body, such as the face, fingers, hands, eyes, and mouth. Therefore, it is important to take your child to a doctor to find out for sure what kind of condition they have. Are these white spots dangerous and contagious? Tinea versicolor is a common fungal infection. It is neither harmful nor contagious. However, your child may complain of mild itchiness in areas where the white spots are present. With the right treatment, your child should recover fully. How did my child get this fungal infection? The type of yeast that causes tinea versicolor thrives in a moist, warm, and oily environment. These conditions promote its growth. In children and adults alike, this is most frequently due to sweating and being in hot, humid weather for too long. Repeated use of topical corticosteroids (e.g. hydrocortisone\/betamethasone creams, gels or ointments) may also be a culprit as it weakens the immune system. When this happens, your child may become more vulnerable to skin infections like tinea versicolor. How do I treat my child\u2019s white spots? In mild to moderate cases, tinea versicolor is easily treated with antifungal cream (often applied 2 or 3 times a day). You need to consistently apply the cream to the affected areas of your child\u2019s skin for a minimum of 2 weeks. Sometimes the treatment may need to be continued for up to 6 to 8 weeks to clear the infection completely.\u00a0 Do I need to get an antifungal cream from a doctor, or can I just buy it from a pharmacy? Some antifungal creams are available over-the-counter. Others can only be supplied under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist or doctor. However, it\u2019s best to confirm first with your healthcare provider if the white spots are actually a fungal skin infection. If so, they will prescribe a suitable antifungal cream for your child. If the infection is severe and has spread to large areas of your child\u2019s body, your doctor may prescribe an oral antifungal to get rid of the infection more effectively. What are examples of topical antifungal products I can find in Malaysia? Category Type of Antifungal Product Examples Over-the-counter (OTC) items Clotrimazole Canesten\u00ae Creobic\u00ae Candazole\u00ae Terbinafine Lamisil\u00ae Creobic Gold\u00ae Dermafin Pharmacy items Miconazole Daktarin\u00ae Decozole\u00ae Zarin\u00ae Ketoconazole Nizoral\u00ae Decor\u00ae Pristinex\u00ae I've tried many types of creams to apply to my child, but the white spots don't seem to completely go away. What should I do? In many cases, the main reason an antifungal treatment fails is lack of consistency. The parent or the child sometimes forgets to finish the treatment as directed by a doctor. It's important to apply the cream to your skin\u2019s child for at least 2 weeks before stopping, even if you notice the white spots begin to disappear. Inconsistent application and improper switching from one product to another make it more difficult to eradicate the infection. It also increase the risk of recurrences. Nevertheless, if you think that a topical treatment (such as an antifungal creams) is not working for your child, an oral antifungal may be needed. It\u2019s best to consult your doctor about this. How long does it take for the white spots to go away? The child\u2019s skin may appear darker or lighter for several weeks or months before it returns to its normal colour. Can my child get this fungal infection again in the future? White spots or tinea versicolor is common among people who live in hot, tropical countries like Malaysia. Leading a physically active lifestyle can also be one of the causes of someone getting more than one case of the skin condition. How do I help prevent my child from getting these white spots again? Below are some tips to prevent or at least reduce the possibility of your child getting tinea vesicolour repeatedly: First, limit your child\u2019s exposure to heat and sunlight. This is to avoid excessive sweating. Secondly, make sure your child wears loose-fitting clothing, especially when outdoors. Finally, wipe your child\u2019s skin off with a clean, moisture-absorbing towel when they sweat. Let them have a towel handy as well when they go to school or engage in outdoor activities. Source: Nazatul Amira Hamzah, Pharmacist at Primabumi Sdn Bhd Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice from Motherhood. For any health-related concerns, it is advisable to consult with a qualified healthcare professional or medical practitioner. For more insightful stories and fun recipes, stay tuned to Motherhood Story!