What is Vitiligo?
Vitiligo is a common skin condition in which patches of skin and hair turn white. The cause of this drop out of pigment is a defect in the ability of certain pigment-producing cells called melanocytes to produce colored pigment. The condition may start in a single patch and remain unchanged for many years, or it may spread to other parts of the body.

Who Is Affected by Vitiligo?
In the United States, 1 to 2 million people have the disorder. Vitiligo can occur at any age group and with any ethnicity. Most people with vitiligo develop it prior to their 40th birthday.

People with certain autoimmune diseases are more likely to get vitiligo. Researchers do not know why there is an association between vitiligo and autoimmune conditions. However, most people with vitiligo do not have other autoimmune diseases.

Vitiligo may have a genetic component. Children whose parents have the disorder are more likely to develop vitiligo. However, most children will not get vitiligo even if a parent has it.

Vitiligo can be more apparent in people with darker skin types because of the contrast between pigmented areas and non-pigmented areas.

What Are the Symptoms of Vitiligo?
Vitiligo patches typically don’t hurt. They are usually only visually apparent. Sometimes, vitiligo patches can get sunburned if exposed to the sun since their lack of pigment makes them more susceptible to ultraviolet light damage.

How Is Vitiligo Diagnosed?
Usually Vitiligo is diagnosed visually by a dermatologist. If the diagnosis is uncertain, a skin biopsy can be performed to confirm the diagnosis. Under the microscope the skin shows a decreased number of melanocytes (pigment-producing cells) in the epidermis (top layer of the skin).


No one knows the cause of vitiligo. Researchers see a decrease in the number of melanocytes in the epidermis of the skin. This decrease may be cause by an immune reaction attacking the melanocytes or genetic defect in the melanocytes causing them to die off by themselves.


In vitiligo, the melanocytes in the epidermis are decreased or missing.

In vitiligo, the melanocytes in the epidermis are decreased or missing.



Over-the-Counter cover-up:
MAC, Dermablend
Cost- $50-$100

Prescription Creams/Ointments:
Topical Steroids, Tacrolimus
Monthly Cost- $100-$150

UVA, UVB, Narrow-band UVB, Excimer Laser
Monthly Cost- $1000-$2500

National Vitiligo Foundation:
American Vitiligo Research Foundation:
American Academy of Dermatology:

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