A macule is a flat, distinct, discolored area of skin less than 1 centimeter
(cm) wide. It doesn’t involve any change in the thickness or texture of the
skin. Areas of discoloration that are larger than 1 cm are referred to as
Certain conditions such as vitiligo are
characterized by white or lighter macules or patches on the skin.
Although people of all ages can have macules, they mostly affect:
- young children
- older adults
are macules identified?
Macules can appear on any part of your body, but they
commonly appear on the following:
A macule may be either hypopigmented or
hyperpigmented. Hypopigmented macules are lighter than your skin. Hyperpigmented
ones are darker and are sometimes referred to as cafe au lait spots.
A birthmark may be considered a macule if it’s small.
A rash may be referred to as a macule if its color is
different from the color of your skin. Infections or other diseases can cause this
form of macule.
Call your doctor if you start getting new macules or have
old macules that become inflamed or itchy, or show some other change. This may
be a sign of infection or a dermatological condition.
Macules can be caused by various conditions that affect the
appearance of your skin, resulting in areas of discoloration. Conditions that
are likely to cause macules are:
Macules resulting from the latter are called age spots.
treatment options are available for macules?
Once your doctor diagnoses the cause of your macules, they
might be able to prescribe treatment for your condition. There are many
different causes of macules, so treatments vary widely. Your macules may not go
away, but treating the condition that’s causing them may help prevent further
growth of the macules you have. It may also prevent the formation of new
Macules caused by vitiligo are difficult to treat. Treatment
works best early on in the disease. Treatment options for macules caused by
- light therapy
- topical steroids
- choosing no medical treatment and using cover-ups,
In mild cases, using a special makeup to cover areas of
vitiligo can be helpful. You can buy this makeup at specialty drugstores and
Depigmenting the surrounding skin is offered to some people,
but most patients end up not choosing this option. This treatment removes
pigment from the skin around the vitiligo macules and patches.
Birthmark macules usually don’t pose any medical threat to
patients. There are some therapies that can reduce the appearance of
birthmarks, like lasers, pills, and even surgery.
Skin cancer treatment
Skin cancers can sometimes first appear as macules. If you
notice a new macule that resembles a birthmark, or if an old birthmark is
growing or changing, you should see a doctor to make sure it isn’t skin cancer.