Treatable Condition

Medical Dermatology


Vitiligo is a chronic skin condition in which a loss of pigment causes irregular white patches. The discoloration is due to a loss of melanin, the pigment responsible for skin color. Vitiligo can affect people of any age, gender, or skin tone.


About the Vitiligio

People with vitiligo may notice a gradual loss of pigment on skin that is otherwise normal. The most commonly affected areas of the body are the face, elbows, knees, hands, and feet. The patches are typically sharply defined but irregular, with a darker border.


  • What causes vitiligo?
    The cause of vitiligo is unknown, but it appears to be an inherited autoimmune disorder. Approximately 30 percent of individuals with vitiligo have relatives with the condition.

    Vitiligo is associated with three systemic autoimmune diseases:

    1) Pernicious anemia.
    2) Hyperthyroidism.
    3) Addison’s disease.
  • What are the types of vitiligo?
    There are three types of vitiligo:

    1) General, or non-segmented, vitiligo causes widespread pigment loss across the entire body.
    2) Segmental vitiligo is characterized by patches of pigment loss on only one side of the body.
    3) Focal vitiligo is the least severe type and causes only a few small patches of pigment loss on the body.
  • Is vitiligo contagious?
    No, Vitiligo is not contagious.
  • What are the treatment options?
    Although there is no cure for vitiligo, skin discoloration can often be treated effectively if the vitiligo is diagnosed early. The proper treatment option or combination of treatments depends upon the magnitude and severity of your condition.

    Treatment options that may help reduce the appearance of skin discoloration include:

    1) Light therapy such as Eximer laser.
    2) Topical medications, including corticosteroids, immunosuppressants, and re-pigmenting agents.

    Vitiligo may also be treated by removing skin from normal areas and grafting it onto affected areas. If the above treatments are ineffective, the skin can also be masked with cosmetic tattooing.

"The skin is your best outfit — you just need to know how to take care of it."
Miriam Casal, MD

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