- Vitiligo facts*
- What is vitiligo, and what causes it?
- Who is affected by vitiligo, and is vitiligo inherited?
- What are the symptoms and signs of vitiligo?
- Will the depigmented patches spread?
- How is vitiligo diagnosed?
- How can people cope with the emotional and psychological aspects of vitiligo?
- What treatment options are available for vitiligo?
- Medical therapies
- Surgical therapies
- Additional therapies
- What research is being done on vitiligo?
- Where can people find more information about vitiligo?
- Find a local Dermatologist in your town
Vitiligo facts medically edited by Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
- Vitiligo is a disease in which the pigment cells of the skin, melanocytes, are destroyed in certain areas.
- Vitiligo results in depigmented, or white, patches of skin in any location on the body.
- Vitiligo can be focal and localized to one area, or it may affect several different areas on the body.
- The exact cause of vitiligo is unknown, although most experts believe that it is an autoimmune condition in which the body's immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys certain cells within the body.
- Most people who have vitiligo will develop the condition prior to age 40; about half develop it before age 20.
- Vitiligo tends to run in families.
- Vitiligo is sometimes associated with other medical conditions, includingthyroid dysfunction.
- Vitiligo is not painful and does not have significant health consequences; however, it can have emotional and psychological consequences.
- Some medical treatments can reduce the severity of the condition, but it can be difficult to cure.
What is vitiligo, and what causes it?
Vitiligo (pronounced vit-ill-EYE-go) is a pigmentation disorder in which melanocytes (the cells that make pigment) in the skin are destroyed. As a result, white patches appear on the skin in different parts of the body. Similar patches also appear on both the mucous membranes (tissues that line the inside of the mouth and nose) and the retina (inner layer of the eyeball). The hair that grows on areas affected by vitiligo sometimes turns white.
The cause of vitiligo is not known, but doctors and researchers have several different theories. There is strong evidence that people with vitiligo inherit a group of three genes that make them susceptible to depigmentation. The most widely accepted view is that the depigmentation occurs because vitiligo is an autoimmune
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