Vitiligo is a disorder in which patches of skin lose pigment and become white. It is an auto-immune disorder in which melanocytes, the cells in the body which produce pigment, are destroyed.
No one knows why it occurs. It is thought of as an autoimmune disorder in which the body mistakenly attacks the melanocytes, thus causing the loss of pigment. In many cases, vitiligo tends to be an inherited disorder.
The disorder affects all races and sexes equally but is more visible in people with darker skin types. People with certain autoimmune disorders (such as hyperthyroidism) are more likely to get vitiligo. People with a family history of vitiligo are more likely to get it as well. Vitiligo can occur at any age.
White patches on the skin are the main symptom of vitiligo. Most people tend to have localized patches in areas such as the hands and arms. It is less common for patients to have generalized patches of vitiligo.
It is impossible to predict if vitiligo will be spread. For many people the vitiligo is localized and does not spread. For some patients, in periods of emotional and physical stress the vitiligo can spread over larger areas.
It is important to see a dermatologist because there are many conditions which present as light patches, but are not truly vitiligo. In most cases, vitiligo can be diagnosed clinically but in some more difficult cases, it may require a biopsy.
Dermatologists work with patients in tailoring a treatment regimen based on the patient’s symptoms and the degree to which the vitiligo affects them. For some patients, topical prescription steroid creams are used. For other patients, a course of light therapy in which the patient comes to the office for treatments with a special laser or light box which emits a single wavelength of light is prescribed.
Spectrum Dermatology provides expertise, knowledge and passion to medical, surgical and cosmetic dermatology. Our experience and reputation make Spectrum Dermatology one of the most sought-after dermatologist in the Scottsdale and Phoenix area. For more information or to set up an appointment please contact us at (480) 948-8400.