What is Vitiligo?
Vitiligo is an autoimmune disease characterized by visible patches on the skin anywhere on the body that have lost their usual color. It can also affect the eyes, mouth and nose.
What causes Vitiligo?
This skin condition is an autoimmune disease that occurs when a person's immune system mistakenly rejects the pigment-producing cells (melanocytes) in random parts of the skin, causing those areas to lose all color. The result is random white patches in otherwise normal skin, with no changes in texture and no other skin irritation. Research has also found a genetic link and vitiligo may also appear in conjunction with another autoimmune diseases.
The parts of the body most often affected are the face, elbows and knees, hands and feet, and genitals. Darker-skinned people have more noticeable patches because of the contrast between the white patches and darker normal skin.
How do we treat Vitiligo?
First, we diagnose the condition, sometimes using a skin biopsy for confirmation. Treatments are usually focused on normalizing the color of the white patches:
- Topical 8-Mop (8-Methoxypsoralen) with UV light therapy
- Folic acid nutritional therapy
- Corticosteroid injections
- Custom-compounded medications
What can I expect?
Some treatments may work for you and some may not. The condition is difficult to treat and treatment is often ineffective at curing or concealing the white patches. Lifestyle changes are important:
- Un-pigmented skin has no natural protection against the sun's UVA/UVB rays, as normal skin with melanocytes does. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen to protect exposed skin from sun damage.
Learn more about your condition:
Have a question about your treatment?
We have a dedicated triage nurse (RN) who answers patient questions during office hours. If you have a problem or question about a procedure or a prescribed medication, please call our office and ask to speak to our nurse. If she is unable to answer your question, she will consult with your practitioner and return your call.