In this Article
- 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
Who is affected by vitiligo?
About 0.5 to 1 percent of the world's population, or as many as 65 million people, have vitiligo. In the United States, 1 to 2 million people have the disorder. Half the people who have vitiligo develop it before age 20; most develop it before their 40th birthday. The disorder affects both sexes and all races equally; however, it is more noticeable in people with dark skin.
Vitiligo seems to be somewhat more common in people with certain autoimmune diseases, including hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid gland), adrenocortical insufficiency (the adrenal gland does not produce enough of the hormone called corticosteroid), alopecia areata (patches of baldness), and pernicious anemia (a low level of red blood cells caused by the failure of the body to absorb vitamin B12). Scientists do not know the reason for the association between vitiligo and these autoimmune diseases. However, most people with vitiligo have no other autoimmune disease.
Vitiligo may also be hereditary; that is, it can run in families. Children whose parents have the disorder are more likely to develop vitiligo. In fact, 30 percent of people with vitiligo have a family member with the disease. However, only 5 to 7 percent of children will get vitiligo even if a parent has it, and most people with vitiligo do not have a family history of the disorder.
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