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. Vitiligo affects men and women of all ages, ethnicity, skin types and skin tones. 50% first notice vitiligo before age 20.
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 VITILIGO: most common form of vitiligo; with widespread, symmetrical pigment loss patches across the entire body
- SEGMENTAL VITILIGO: patches of pigment loss skin on one side of the body
- FOCAL VITILIGO: least severe form of vitiligo; 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 with vitiligo
- Associated systemic autoimmune disorders: Addison’s disease, hypothyroidism and pernicious anemia
- Emotional distress or trauma (minor injury, sunburn) may trigger vitiligo
Since there is no cure for vitiligo, the goal is to repigment and restore your skin’s color. Treating vitiligo 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 analogue creams
- Depigmenting, bleaching creams (Hydroquinone, TriLuma)
- Light therapy (Excimer Laser)