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A shoulder with patches of depigmented skin

Vitiligo

Discolored skin can make you feel self-conscious, especially when the contrast between skin tones is severe and the effect is widespread.

Vitiligo is a condition that destroys the cells that give your skin its unique color, resulting in patches of depigmented skin.

Do I have vitiligo?

Symptoms Usually Appear Before or Around Age 20

Depigmentation

Each patient experiences vitiligo differently. Focal vitiligo can affect the face, hands, arms, legs, and feet, while generalized vitiligo affects all parts of the body.

Retinal Discoloration

In some cases, vitiligo can cause discoloration of the retina, the light-sensitive tissue on the back inner surface of the eye.

Hipster

Streaks of White Hair

Vitiligo can also brighten the pigment throughout different parts of your scalp, eyelashes, eyebrows, and facial hair.

Why does vitiligo happen?

Vitiligo Has No Known Cause

The cause of vitiligo is not known. However, doctors and scientists speculate that there could be several reasons why the condition occurs.

Let's take a closer look...

Suspected Causes

Genetics

The U.S. National Library of Medicine reports that about 20 percent of those with vitiligo have at least one family member who also suffers from the condition.

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Autoimmune Disorders

Autoimmune disorders cause the body to attack itself and could potentially destroy melanocyte cells. Thyroid diseases and other autoimmune deficiencies are common in patients with vitiligo.

Trauma

It is suspected that emotional distress or a severe sunburn can trigger vitiligo. Studies are currently exploring this possibility.

Can anything reverse the effects of vitiligo?

"If you have vitiligo and want to treat it, you should discuss treatment options with a dermatologist. There are many treatment options..."

American Academy of Dermatology

Ways of Coping with Vitiligo

Protect Your Skin

If you have been diagnosed with vitiligo, you should wear sunscreen and avoid excessive sun exposure. When your pigmented skin becomes tan, the effects of vitiligo are more noticeable.

Avoid Stress

Many patients have reported that stress or emotional trauma can trigger a spread of vitiligo. Practice yoga or another therapeutic activity to reduce your stress levels.

Seek Therapy

Although the condition is not life-threatening, vitiligo can cause decreased self-esteem and depression. Share your concerns with your doctor. You'll quickly find that you are not alone.

What do my symptoms mean?

Your Doctor Can Diagnose Vitiligo

A doctor can diagnose vitiligo by conducting a series of exams. These may include physical assessments with an ultraviolet light to highlight areas affected by vitiligo, a family history evaluation, medical health exam, biopsy, blood test, or an eye exam.

How can I improve my skin and my quality of life?

Your Options Range From Makeup to Surgery

There are several means of improving your complexion and achieving emotional relief:

Daily Coverage

Many patients choose to use makeup and self-tanners to conceal patches of depigmented skin on a day-to-day basis.

Topical Creams

For small areas of the skin affected by vitiligo, your doctor can prescribe a corticosteroid cream to help your skin regain pigment. About half of patients who use these creams regain some color in their skin within six months.

Laser or Light Therapy

For more extensive cases of vitiligo, your doctor may recommend light box, excimer laser, or UVA light therapy. A specialized treatment known as PUVA light therapy can be between 50 and 75 percent effective at re-pigmenting the skin.

Surgery

If you have a few isolated patches of affected skin, your doctor can perform a skin graft to replace depigmented areas.

Which treatment is best for me?

Explore Your Options with a Doctor

Although there is no known cure for vitiligo, relief is possible. A doctor can recommend a treatment based on your goals and other factors. Consult a skin care professional today to explore your treatment options.

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