Vitiligo causes white patches on your skin. It can also affect your eyes, mouth, and nose. It occurs when the cells that give your skin its color are destroyed. No one knows what destroys them. It is more common in people with autoimmune diseases, and it might run in families. It usually starts before age 40.

The white patches are more common where your skin is exposed to the sun. In some cases, the patches spread. Vitiligo can cause your hair to gray early. If you have dark skin, you may lose color inside your mouth.

Using sunscreen will help protect your skin, and cosmetics can cover up the patches. Treatments for vitiligo include medicines, light therapy, and surgery. Not every treatment is right for everyone. Many have side effects. Some take a long time. Some do not always work.

NIH: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

Symptoms of Vitiligo

The following features are indicative of Vitiligo:
  • patchy loss of skin color
  • premature whitening or graying of the hair on the scalp
  • loss of color in the tissues that line the inside of your mouth and nose
  • Loss of or change in color of the inner layer of the eyeball

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Common Causes of Vitiligo

The following are the most common causes of Vitiligo:
  • gene mutations
  • any disoder that destroys the melanocytes in the skin
  • family history
  • sunburn
  • stress
  • exposure to industrial chemicals

Risk Factors for Vitiligo

The following factors may increase the likelihood of Vitiligo:
  • family history
  • exposure to industrial chemicals
  • sunburn
  • stress

Prevention of Vitiligo

Yes, it may be possible to prevent Vitiligo. Prevention may be possible by doing the following:
  • talk to a genetic counselor if family member has vitiligo to understand chances of having the disease in future

Occurrence of Vitiligo

Number of Cases

The following are the number of Vitiligo cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Not common between 50K - 500K cases

Common Age Group

Vitiligo can occur at any age.

Common Gender

Vitiligo can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Vitiligo

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Vitiligo:
  • Physical exam: To see the changes in skin
  • Skin biopsy and blood draw: To look for underlying autoimmune conditions

Doctor for Diagnosis of Vitiligo

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of Vitiligo:
  • Dermatologist

Complications of Vitiligo if untreated

Yes, Vitiligo causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Vitiligo is left untreated:
  • social or psychological distress
  • sunburn
  • skin cancer
  • inflammation of the iris
  • hearing loss

Procedures for Treatment of Vitiligo

The following procedures are used to treat Vitiligo:
  • Skin grafting: Removes the small sections of your normal skin that have lost pigment
  • Blister grafting: To removes the tops of the blisters and transplants them to an area of discolored skin
  • Micropigmentation: To implant pigment into the skin

Self-care for Vitiligo

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of Vitiligo:
  • Apply sunscreen: Protects against both UVA and UVB light
  • Avoid high-risk sun exposure: Decreases the chances of skin disorders
  • Wear protective clothing: Reduces the chances of skin pigmentation

Alternative Medicine for Treatment of Vitiligo

The following alternate medicine and therapies are known to help in the treatment or management of Vitiligo:
  • Intake ginkgo biloba supplements: Helps in returning the skin color
  • Alpha-lipoic acid, folic acid, vitamin C and vitamin B-12 plus phototherapy: Restore the skin color

Patient Support for Treatment of Vitiligo

The following actions may help Vitiligo patients:
  • Learn all about it: Learn about the condition that helps you in deciding what steps to take
  • Talk with others: Join support groups in your area to share your feelings with the people with vitiligo
  • Confide in loved one's: Family and friends should understand and support the diseased person

Time for Treatment of Vitiligo

While time-period of treatment for each patient may vary, below is the typical time-period for Vitiligo to resolve if treated properly under an expert supervision:
  • More than 1 year

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 2/04/2019.
This page provides information for Vitiligo.
Skin Pigmentation Disorders

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