What is Vitiligo?

Melanin, the pigment that determines color of skin, hair and eyes, is produced in cells called melanocytes. If these cells die or cannot form melanin, the skin becomes lighter or completely white. Vitiligo is a chronic pigmentation disorder or a skin condition of white patches resulting from loss of pigment. Pigment cells (melanocytes) are killed in areas due to an auto-immune reaction (white blood cells and anti-bodies against own pigment cells).

Different Types of Vitiligo

Typical vitiligo shows areas of milky-white skin
May be different shades of pigment in a patch
A border of darker skin may circle an area of light skin

Treatment of Vitiligo

311 "Narrowband" ultraviolet, the newest and most effective and replaces PUVA treatment
Cortisone Creams and tablets only described for short periods, numerous side affects on long term.
Coverderm as camouflage cream
A sunscreen with a SPF of at least 15 should be used on all areas of vitiligo not covered by clothing.
PUVA is a form of repigmentation therapy where medication known as PSORALEN is given but may be dangerous to the eyes and skin, provoking skin cancer, ageing of skin and cataracts. It would never be given except under strict dermatologist supervision.


Q: Is vitiligo contagious?

No. Vitiligo is not contagious. It is not something you can catch or pass on.

Q: What is Vitiligo?

Vitiligo is a chronic pigmentation disorder or a skin condition of white patches resulting from loss of pigment.

Q: How is Vitiligo diagnosed?

Diagnosis is usually made by observation. Progressive, white areas on typical sites point to a diagnosis of vitiligo. If the diagnosis is not certain, the doctor will test for other conditions which can mimic vitiligo, such as chemical leukoderma, fungus infections or systemic lupus erythematosus. If the tests rule out other conditions, vitiligo is confirmed.

Q: What causes Vitiligo?

An auto immune condition, the immune system rejects the patients own pigment cells.
Q: Which parts of the body is affected?

Any area may be affected but mostly areas of sunburn, minimal friction, pressure, trauma, around eyes, nose, mouth, armpits, groins, legs, around moles. Small or large, single or multiple areas mostly progressive. Spontaneous improvement may occur.

Q: Does emotional stress cause Vitiligo to appear?

Yes. Frequently an association may be noted.

Q: Does Vitiligo affect a person's quality of life?

Social and emotional affects may occur.

Q: Is there a cure for Vitiligo?

Usually with continuous treatment, involving 311nm uVB Narrowband, most cases improve or clear within one to two years.

The most recent effective treatment involves UVB Narrowband, Phototherapy in conjunction with oral and topical treatment.

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