People ask us about do’s and don’ts for vitiligo. Testing the thyroid is one thing you should do for vitiligo because research has shown the risk to develop autoimmune thyroid disease to be 2.5 times higher among people with vitiligo. The thyroid gland is a small butterfly-shaped organ that lies flat across your windpipe. It produces hormones that affect the body’s metabolism, heart rate, and growth.
Thyroid disease can speed up or slow down the thyroid’s hormone production which can cause a variety of physical problems. Those with vitiligo have a significantly higher incidence of autoimmune thyroid disease than the normal population.
Several studies have observed that patients with vitiligo have an increased prevalence of autoimmune thyroid disease. In a study of 94 patients with vitiligo and 96 patients in the control, anti-thyroid peroxidase levels were measured.
Six thyroid disorders show various prevalence in vitiligo. The highest prevalence is in subclinical hypothyroidism, and the lowest is in subclinical hyperthyroidism or Graves disease. This provides useful estimates of the burden of thyroid disorders in vitiligo patients. Screening vitiligo patients for thyroid disorders seem reasonable, in an effort to detect potential thyroid diseases or to assess the risk of future onset.
As for subclinical hypothyroidism, overt hypothyroidism and Hashimoto thyroiditis, children had higher prevalence than adult.
The British vitiligo guideline suggests that adult vitiligo patients should regularly screen for thyroid disorders. However, all vitiligo patients, especially children (who are not routinely tested) should be tested for thyroid function and antibodies. A blood test will tell whether your thyroid is healthy. If you have thyroid disease, treatment can successfully manage it. A properly functioning thyroid also helps set the foundation for healing.
If you have vitiligo, do get your thyroid tested. More useful articles are in our Vitiligo Learning Center.