What is Vitiligo?
Vitiligo or leukoderma (also called leucoderma) is a condition where skin loses melanin – the pigment that colors skin, hair, and eyes. Vitiligo is characterized by bright white patches on the skin. There are different causes for these white spots on skin. It affects 2% of the population.
In 12% of cases, intense itching can occur at the site of skin depigmentation before a new vitiligo white spot develops. Vitiligo can occur at any age and on any part of the body. It’s not contagious. It affects all ages, ethnicities, and genders. There is not one cause of vitiligo. It happens in different people for different reasons.
There is no cure for vitiligo. However, it is treatable. Vitiligo treatments can slow the progression of new white patches appearing and also induce repigmentation (original color returning to skin). There are many vitiligo treatments available.
Vitiligo signs include:
- Skin discoloration
- Premature whitening or graying of the hair on your scalp, eyelashes, eyebrows or beard (usually before age 35)
- Loss of color in the tissues that line the inside of your mouth and nose (mucous membranes)
- Loss of or change in color of the inner layer of the eyeball (retina)
- Discolored patches around the armpits, navel, genitals and rectum
The path of vitiligo is unpredictable. Skin turning white can start as a small area of pigment loss. People with vitiligo may have hair that turns gray early. Vitiligo patches can occur quickly or slowly. Patches may stop forming. In other cases, vitiligo patches can spread over the majority of the skin surface. Many people can go years without developing new spots. There are reports of people experiencing spontaneous repigmentation of the affected area.
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