Medical Dermatology

Vitiligo

Vitiligo is a chronic skin disease characterized by loss of pigmentation.

  • Vitiligo is felt to be caused by a combination of autoimmune, genetic and environmental factors.
  • The population incidence in the United States is between 1% and 2%.
  • The onset of vitiligo is often before age 20.
  • Depigmented patches of skin may grow or remain constant in size. Small areas may repigment as melanocytes (pigment cells) migrate into depigmented areas from cells that are part of hair follicles.
  • Vitiligo can have a significant effect on psychological well being, especially in skin of color, because the contrast between pigmented and depigmented areas can be drastic.
  • People with vitiligo may feel depressed because their appearance has changed dramatically.
  • Repigmentation therapies to remove the white patches include corticosteroids (topical and intralesional), calcineurin inhibitors, ultraviolet light, and skin “transplantation” procedures.
  • Light treatments include narrowband ultraviolet-B light (NB-UVB), psoralen plus ultraviolet-A photochemotherapy (PUVA) or UVA-1 therapy.