Vitiligo is a condition that causes patches of the skin to lose its pigmentation.
Incidence: Very Common
○ More than 200,000 US cases per year
○ Treatment can help, but this condition may not be cured
○ Requires a medical diagnosis
○ Lab tests or imaging rarely required
○ Chronic: can last for years or be lifelong
Vitiligo is present when patches of skin appear lighter than normal and can vary from a few small patches to many large ones. This condition can affect the whole body, including skin, hair and eyes. When melanocytes, the cells that pigment our hair and skin are lost, they leave behind patches of non-pigmented skin that appear lighter than the normally colored skin. Researchers are not yet sure why the cells are lost. It is possible that vitiligo is a type of autoimmune disease. If the immune system thinks melanocytes are foreign bodies, it will attack and kill them. This is one of at least three different theories about the cause of this condition, which can, in some cases run in families. Anyone can get vitiligo. It appears equally across race, gender, and skin color. In many, the signs present themselves before the patient reaches 21 years of age and remain for the rest of their lives. The signs of vitiligo rarely disappear. Having a close relative who has vitiligo or an autoimmune disease may increase your chances of developing vitiligo.