What is vitiligo?

Vitiligo is a somewhat common condition in which areas of skin lose their pigmentation, resulting in white patches. Vitiligo can occur at any age and primarily affects the skin of the face, hands, feet and genitals. The patches often appear more pronounced in people with darker skin.

Vitiligo is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system of the body attacks its own cells, specifically the melanocytes, which make the brown coloration in skin. Although anyone can develop vitiligo, it appears to run in some families.

Although vitiligo itself has few physical health complications, the appearance of white patches, especially on the face, can be emotionally difficult for many people. Vitiligo is often associated with other autoimmune conditions, such as Graves’ disease and systemic lupus erythematosus. Some treatments exist for vitiligo, but most do not significantly change the appearance of the white patches. Makeup can be helpful in covering up the white patches caused by vitiligo.

Vitiligo is not a serious medical condition, though it can be associated with a number of autoimmune disorders. Consult your health care professional if white patches appear on your skin. White patches from vitiligo are susceptible to sunburn. Seek prompt medical care if you get severe sunburn on any white patches caused by vitiligo.


SYMPTOMS

What are the symptoms of vitiligo?

Symptoms of vitiligo include the formation of white patches on your skin. The patches can develop slowly or appear suddenly. The skin on and around these patches feels totally normal. Once a white patch appears, it may or may not remain white. The patches usually have irregular borders and most often are found on the face, hands, feet and genitals.

Vitiligo is usually easy to diag... Read more about vitiligosymptoms

CAUSES

What causes vitiligo?

Vitiligo occurs when your own immune system attacks the cells in your skin that make pigment. Vitiligo is not contagious. Some families appear to be more susceptible to vitiligo, suggesting that the condition may have a genetic component.

What are the risk factors for vitiligo?

A number of factors increase the risk of developing vitiligo. Not all people with risk factor... Read more about vitiligocauses

TREATMENTS

How is vitiligo treated?

Treatments that may lessen the progression of vitiligo or decrease the symptoms of the condition include both medical and surgical approaches, as well as specific medical procedures. Consult with your physician or dermatologist to determine what measures are appropriate for you.

Medical treatments for vitiligo

Some medical treatments may improve the look of the white pa... Read more about vitiligotreatments

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 20, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Skin, Hair and Nails


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