Vitiligo is a harmless but incurable skin condition that presents as patches of skin that have lost their pigment. Anyone of any race or ethnicity can have vitiligo, but it becomes more apparent in those with more melanin. Vitiligo is an auto-immune disorder that targets the cells in the body that produce pigment—melanocytes—and mistakenly destroys them.
Although there is no cure for vitiligo, there are options for improving overall skin tone and appearance. Vitiligo has become a household name in recent years, largely thanks to model Winnie Harlow. It has increasingly become not only well-known, but revered by many as naturally beautiful.
Nobody knows why vitiligo occurs or why melanocytes are attacked by the body. What is known is that there seems to be a genetic component to vitiligo. If a family member has the condition, there are higher chances that you will, too. Vitiligo often appears and progresses with age.
Men and women of all races seem to develop vitiligo at the same rates. However, it is more noticeable in those with darker skin tones. People with other autoimmune disorders, like Hashimoto thyroiditis, also have vitiligo at a higher rate. The disorder can become apparent at any age, although it tends to become more obvious as the patient gets older. The highest risk factor of vitiligo is having a family member with the disorder.
Vitiligo is diagnosed by a dermatologist when white patches of skin begin to appear and all other causes are ruled out. Vitiligo almost always presents as localized swatches of skin, often starting on the hands and arms. Generalized vitiligo patches do occur, but less frequently.
There is no way to tell if vitiligo will spread or not, but it is relatively common. However, most vitiligo patients have “localized vitiligo” that doesn’t spread. This makes it easier to cover up the patches if the client chooses. Vitiligo tends to spread during periods of high emotional or physical stress and trauma.
Only a qualified medical provider can diagnose vitiligo and we at Spectrum Dermatology take great pride in the depth of our team and the training they have accomplished. There are a number of conditions which can mimic the disorder, presenting as light patches on the skin. Usually, a dermatologist can diagnose vitiligo with a physical examination, but in rare cases a biopsy may be necessary.
There is no treatment to remove or “cure” vitiligo. Since it is a harmless disorder, the goal of many patients is an improved cosmetic appearance. Spectrum Dermatology works closely with clients to create a customized plan revolving around their symptoms and goals. Steroid creams can effectively minimize the appearance of vitiligo in some cases, while others benefit from light therapy or laser skin resurfacing. There is no way to remove vitiligo, and many patients would not want to. However, improving the overall appearance of the skin can help many clients embrace and love their skin while ensuring it is as healthy as it can be.
Some patients choose to cover vitiligo with makeup or coverup. If you prefer to cover vitiligo, it is important to choose products with healthy ingredients. Spectrum Dermatology helps patients design personalized approaches to skin care and offers treatments that help maximize the effects of makeup. Dermaplane is just one treatment to help makeup, lotions, and creams application be smoother.
If you suspect you have vitiligo or have been diagnosed with the disorder, your skin deserves the ultimate in care. Spectrum Dermatology has six offices throughout the Phoenix and Scottsdale areas to treat all types of skin conditions. Contact us at (480) 948-8400 for your vitiligo consultation and discover more about how to treat your skin right.