Vitiligo is a skin condition caused by progressive depigmentation; it presents as white patches on the skin. Although any part of the body can be affected, vitiligo is usually found on the face, elbows, knees, hands, feet, genitals and upper thighs. When the scalp is affected, the hair growing on the vitiligo patch is white. Vitiligo can also affect the chin or eyelid, in which case the lashes or beard become white. 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.
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Frequently Asked Vitiligo Questions:
What is Vitiligo?
Vitiligo is an acquired skin disorder characterized clinically by totally white macules or “spots” and microscopically by the total absence of pigment producing cells in the skin called melanocytes.
Who gets Vitiligo?
Vitiligo appears to affect at least 1% to 2% of the population regardless of race, sex or age. In half of all vitiligo cases, onset occurs between the ages of 10 and 30. Both predisposing (genetic) and precipitating (environmental) factors contribute to vitiligo. Vitiligo is not a transmittable disease and cannot be passed from person to person.
Is Vitiligo curable?
No, vitiligo is not curable. However, there are different treatments and techniques that help in re-pigmenting the skin and evening out the skin tone of patients. Depigmenting is an option for patients with universal vitiligo or more than 50% of their body covered.
What are the types of Vitiligo?
Usually it is divided into two categories. Those categories are localized and generalized. Localized refers to depigmentation that is exclusive to a specific part of the body. While generalized has the ability to spread and affect multiple skin regions.
How is Vitiligo diagnosed?
Typically, physical examination, skin biopsies and blood being drawn. Also, sometimes it means gathering your personal and family medical history for underlying autoimmune conditions such as anemia and diabetes.