What is Vitiligo?
Vitiligo is a skin condition caused by progressive depigmentation; it presents as white patches on the skin. The texture of the depigmented skin is not altered and the condition is not painful, although the affected skin may be much more sensitive to the sun.
Vitiligo affects both sides of the body equally, often symmetrically, and the borders of the white patches are irregular but well-defined. White patches may appear gradually or suddenly. Vitiligo is not uncommon, affecting between one-half and one percent of the population. While not serious medically, it can cause emotional distress for the sufferer because of how it makes the skin look.
What Parts of the Body Are Affected by Vitiligo?
Although vitiligo can affect any part of the body, this skin pigmentation is usually on the:
- Upper thighs
When vitiligo affects the scalp, the hair growing on the patch is white. It can also affect the chin or eyelid, in which case the lashes or beard become white.
Causes of Vitiligo
Diagnosis of Vitiligo
Skin Pigmentation Treatment
Vitiligo is a very difficult disorder to treat. In most cases, patients just live with it, using sunblock to protect white patches from sunburn and/or makeup to camouflage them. Although we used to believe that melanin was the only agent protecting the body from sun damage, vitiligo has shown that that is not the case. Some patients suffer severe sunburn on patches and others do not. In all cases, however, it is important for patients to use sunblock.
There are several treatments for skin pigmentation with varying degrees of success. They include the following:
- Phototherapy (medical exposure to ultraviolet light)
- Topical drugs (to increase skin sensitivity to light)
- Topical corticosteroids
- Autologous skin grafts from pigmented areas
- Medical tattooing (micropigmentation)
- Topical immunosuppressants
Other treatments are being used experimentally. One involves the transplantation of melanocytes grown from a patient’s healthy cells to the area affected with vitiligo.
Schedule a Consultation
If you suffer from Vitiligo and would like to seek treatment, call (301) 249-0970 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Valerie Callender. Our practice serves Glenn Dale, MD and surrounding areas.