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Dr. Andrew Rynne
MD
Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

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Article Home Skin Disorders Vitiligo

Vitiligo

Vitiligo is a condition in which your skin loses melanin, the pigment that determines the color of your skin, hair and eyes

Vitiligo occurs when the cells that produce melanin die or no longer form melanin causing slowly enlarging white patches of irregular shapes to appear on your skin.

 

Causes

  • Vitiligo occurs when melanin — the dark pigment in the epidermis that gives your skin its normal color — is destroyed or not produced
  • The involved patch of skin then becomes white
  • It may be due to an immune system disorder
  • Heredity may be a factor because there's an increased incidence of vitiligo in some families

 

Signs & Symptoms

The main sign of vitiligo is pigment loss that produces milky-white patches (depigmentation) on your skin.

Other less common signs may include

  • Premature whitening or graying of the hair on your scalp, eyelashes, eyebrows or beard
  • Loss of color in the tissues that line the inside of your mouth (mucous membranes
  • Loss or change in color of the inner layer of your eye (retina)

Diagnosis

Important factors in your medical history include:

 

  • A family history of vitiligo
  • A rash, sunburn or other skin trauma at the site of vitiligo within two to three months of the start of pigment loss
  • Premature graying of the hair (before age 35)
  • Stress or physical illness


Treatment

  • Self-care steps, such as using sunscreen and applying cosmetic camouflage cream, may improve the appearance of your skin

  •  For fair-skinned individuals, avoiding tanning can make the areas almost unnoticeable 

  • Depending on the type of therapy, treatment for vitiligo may take from six to 18 months 

  • Medical treatment choices are based on the number of white patches and how widespread they are

 

Prevention

People with or without the condition should always use sunscreen lotions or sun blocks with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or more to protect the skin against the harmful effects of UV rays.

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