About Vitiligo

Why learn about vitiligo? Perhaps you are curious about the condition or you think it might be a good idea to learn more about it. Perhaps vitiligo is something you’re familiar with, either because you have it yourself or because you or a loved one has only lately been diagnosed with it. You may have been living with the disease for a long and now you’d want to learn about the newest developments in the field and get support from others in a similar position. No matter what your reason is, learning about vitiligo can only benefit you. It can provide you with a better understanding of the disease and can help you in your interactions with doctors and other healthcare providers Let’s dive in…

Quick facts on vitiligo

  • A person of any age, gender, or race may develop vitiligo.
  • This is a condition that often lasts a person’s whole life and for which there is currently no treatment.
  • A viral infection or an autoimmune condition may be the cause, the precise cause is yet to be established.
  • Vitiligo isn’t infectious.
  • In extreme situations, depigmentation and/or exposure to UVA or UVB rays may be recommended as treatment courses.
What is vitiligo?

Vitiligo is a disorder that results in the destruction of melanocytes in the affected skin, which causes the skin to lose its pigmentation, results in the affected area looking white or pink in appearance. In most cases, vitiligo is a result of autoimmune disorder where the body thinks it is getting attacked by an unidentifiable substance and attacks itself.

Although vitiligo can manifest itself anywhere on the body, including the face, arms, and legs, it most often appears in the following areas:

  • Elbows, genital areas, belly button, nose, and nostrils.
  • Sometimes detected in the mouth.
  • Bodily parts with folds, such as elbows and knees.

In advanced cases vitiligo can lead to significant social problems, which means it can affect your life in a very negative way.

Vitiligo occurs in adults and children, but is more common in the latter group. Most cases of vitiligo occur before the victim turns 40, however the condition may manifest at any age. It is not associated with a person’s sex, race, age, or skin color. The condition is often associated with autoimmune disorders and a history of sun exposure.

Types of vitiligo

There are two types of vitiligo:

  • Segmental
  • Non-segmental


Segmental vitiligo spreads more quickly than non-segmental, it is generally seen as more consistent, stable, and less unpredictable. Segmental vitiligo affects only a tiny portion of patients with vitiligo in comparison to non-segmental. It often manifests between the ages of four and ten, affects just a single region of the body. The skin around the dorsal roots of the spine is a common target for the segmental form of vitiligo. Localized creams and ointments are effective in treating it.


This is the most prevalent kind of vitiligo. A diagnosis of non-segmental vitiligo is more likely if the initial white spots are bilaterally symmetrical. When the patches are distributed over several areas of the body, development is slowed compared to when the patches are localized to a single place.

The patches usually show up symmetrically on both sides of the body. Moreover, areas of the body that are often exposed to direct sunlight (the face, the neck, and the hands) are the most likely to develop them.

Most affected areas include:

  • Fingertips
  • Palms
  • Wrists
  • Elbows
  • Knees
  • Feet
  • Mouth
  • Groin
  • Navel
  • Genitalia, and rectal region

Non-segmental vitiligo is further subcategorized into:

Generalized: patches may be of any size or shape and affects any part of the body, non-specific.

Acrofacial: mainly affects the fingers or toes, as well as the face and scalp.

Mucosal: Found mostly in the mouth and on the lips.

Universal: Depigmentation of most of the body and is quite unusual.

Focal: a cluster of white spots appears in one particular region. Youngsters are disproportionately affected.

Is vitiligo heritable?

Family history is not often a predictor of vitiligo, however the condition may run in families. Therefore, just because a parent has vitiligo does not always cause a kid to have it. They do, however, have an increased risk of being affected by vitiligo.

Misconceptions about vitiligo
While vitiligo is a serious medical condition, it is also commonly associated with misconceptions and myths. Some of the most common include the idea that It affects a person’s ability to see, that it is contagious, that it is linked to cancer, or that it is a form of albinism. While these are incorrect, they still cause concern among those who believe them, which is why it is important to bust these myths and misconceptions.
Why does vitiligo occur?

Although the exact origin of vitiligo is unclear, there are several suggestions as to how it develops.

Several potential reasons include:

Genetics: There are indications that family background may influence vitiligo where a number of victims have been found having a first-degree relative who also has/had the disorder.

Oxidative stress: vitiligo may develop when a person has an imbalance of oxygen molecules and antioxidants.

Autoimmune response: Immune system targets and destroys melanocytes in an autoimmune reaction.

Environmental factors: Variables related to the environment, such as psychological anguish, sunburn, or exposure to chemicals

Is vitiligo associated with other diseases?

While vitiligo is often associated with only a minor skin alteration, it has been linked to other conditions, such as type 1 diabetes, autoimmune thyroid disease, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, pernicious anemia, Addison disease, and systemic lupus erythematosus. Some of these other conditions can cause symptoms similar to those of vitiligo, including a change in the skin color, hair loss, and sensitivity to heat and sunlight, but aren’t actually linked to the autoimmune condition. In some cases, the connection between other conditions and vitiligo will only become apparent once the diagnosis of the autoimmune condition has been made.

Is vitiligo treatable or preventable?

Unlike other skin conditions, vitiligo isn’t caused by anything that can be treated or prevented. This means that vitiligo can’t be cured, but it can be managed. Some people with vitiligo find that their condition improves without treatment. However, sometimes medications such as corticosteroids or immunomodulators or other therapies can help reduce the symptoms of vitiligo and improve the appearance of the skin.

For example, you can use cosmetics to conceal the white patches caused by the condition, or you can undergo skin treatments to restore some of the pigment in the affected areas. While vitiligo cannot be prevented, you can reduce your risk of developing the condition by avoiding known triggers such as sun exposure and stress.


Vitiligo is characterized by the development of uniformly lighter-colored patches or spots on the skin. When white spots first appear, it’s usually on an area that’s been exposed to sunlight for a while. It appears at first as a simple spot, slightly lighter in tone than the surrounding skin; however, as time goes on, this spot gradually becomes whiter.

 It’s not uncommon for the patches to have an atypical shape. It, rarely results in skin issues like redness, itching, or dryness. Vitiligo’s effects may range from mild to severe. Some individuals, for instance, may see a few white spots that don’t spread, while others may notice bigger white patches that merge and impact wider sections of skin.


Vitiligo may affect anybody, at any age. During a visit to the doctor, the patient should expect questions about their family background and a thorough physical exam, with specific attention paid to the skin. Depigmented skin that looks chalky underneath a black light may also be identified with the use of a physician’s UV light which is an indication of vitiligo.


Having vitiligo does not mean you cannot live a full, healthy life. However, for some people, the diagnosis might be difficult, particularly to their sense of self-worth. As it spreads to cover more and more skin, it may make some people self-conscious and unhappy, which can have a negative impact on their daily lives. Victims are also vulnerable to secondary illnesses including ear and eye irritation.

Risk factors

Genetics and environment can both play a role in the development of vitiligo. While the exact cause remains unknown, there are certain risk factors that have been linked to the development of the condition. These include a history of the condition in the family, autoimmune diseases, and certain medications. Some of the autoimmune diseases that have been linked to an increased risk of vitiligo include rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and Hashimoto’s disease.

Vitiligo and daily life

It has been shown that vitiligo has no serious health risks, and hence, some people have little trouble adjusting to their new normal. It’s true that vitiligo’s distinctive look is a positive for many individuals. People may treat you better and be more willing to assist you when you’re in a bind. You may also gain confidence and the conviction that you are a decent person at heart, despite your appearance.

While most persons with vitiligo show no apparent symptoms, others develop white patches or freckles on their skin. People with vitiligo may lead quite typical lives. The most effective method of dealing with vitiligo is to accept one’s condition and remain “in the closet.” But there are many who feel more comfortable representing their illness in the open.

Though dealing with vitiligo might be challenging, it should not compromise your daily life. You can go through life with vitiligo if you take good care of your skin and prevent excessive sun exposure.

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