What is Vitiligo?
Vitiligo is a rare, chronic, skin condition due to the loss of pigmentation (melanin) when the pigment-producing cells (melanocytes) are attacked and damaged. It affects men and women of all ages, ethnicity, skin types, and skin tones. 50% first notice this skin condition before age 20. As a result, the affected areas can usually get larger over time.
Vitiligo symptoms are most likely to initially show up on body areas that are most frequently exposed to the sun, such as the face and lips, arms, hands, and feet. It often progresses and can also affect your eyes, mucous membranes, and hair.
Patches of skin will lighten as the pigmentation decreases and may loosely follow a defined pattern.
- NON-SEGMENTAL, GENERAL: most common form of this skin condition; with widespread, symmetrical pigment loss patches across the entire body
- SEGMENTAL: patches of pigment loss skin on one side of the body
- FOCAL: least severe form; with a few patches of pigment loss skin on the body
Vitiligo is an autoimmune disorder, with unknown causes but may be influenced by:
- Family history (heredity): in one-third of those affected
- Associated systemic autoimmune disorders: Addison’s disease, hypothyroidism, and pernicious anemia
- Emotional distress or trauma (minor injury, sunburn) may trigger it
Since there is no cure for vitiligo, the goal is to re-pigment and restore your skin’s color. Treating this rare skin condition is a relatively slow process since repigmentation occurs as the melanocytes gradually return over months to years. Patience is key since there is no overnight remedy. Each patient will have a customized treatment plan depending on their vitiligo extent and severity.
- Corticosteroid creams
- Calcineurin inhibitor creams (Protopic, Elidel)
- Vitamin D analog creams
- Depigmenting, bleaching creams (Hydroquinone, TriLuma)
- Light therapy (Excimer Laser)
For more information about Vitiligo, view some of our articles.