You are supposed to have certain cells in your skin called melanocytes that turn dark when they are exposed to ultraviolet light from sun and other sources. Vitiligo occurs when melanocytes disappear from certain areas of the skin, causing light spots to appear on the skin, usually in circular areas, often around joints and around the genitals, mouth, ears or nose. Vitiligo affects two out of every 100 people.

Many doctors think that a person's own immunity destroys melanocytes to cause vitiligo and tacrolimus is an extract from poisonous mushrooms that suppresses a person's immunity. Researchers reported at a meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology in New Orleans that tacrolimus cream can help treat vitiligo. Patients applied tacrolimus ointment to affected areas twice daily for one to five months. Commercial creams that have the same effect include Protopic and Eladil creams. There is some concern that these treatments may increase the risk for certain cancers. Check with your doctor.

Another common cause of white spots, particularly on sun-tanned skin, is a harmless fungus called tinea versicolor.

Checked 9/9/16

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