Vitiligo is a long term skin condition characterized by patches of the skin losing their pigment. The patches of skin affected become white and usually have sharp margins. The hair from the skin may also become white.] Inside the mouth and nose may also be involved.Typically both sides of the body are affected. Often the patches begin on areas of skin that are exposed to the sun. It is more noticeable in people with dark skin. Vitiligo may result in psychological stress and those affected may be stigmatized.
The cause is typically unknown It is believed to be due to genetic susceptibility that is triggered by an environmental factor such that an autoimmune disease occurs.This results in the destruction of skin pigment cells. Risk factors include a family history of the condition or other autoimmune diseases, such as hyperthyroidism, alopecia areata, and pernicious anemia.Vitiligo is classified into two main types: segmental and non-segmental. Most cases are non-segmental meaning they affect both sides and typically get worse with time. About 10% of cases are segmental meaning they mostly involve one side of the body and do not typically worsen with time. Diagnosis can be confirmed by tissue biopsy.
The only sign of vitiligo is the presence of pale patchy areas of depigmented skin which tend to occur on the extremities. The patches are initially small, but often grow and change shape. When skin lesions occur, they are most prominent on the face, hands and wrists. The loss of skin pigmentation is particularly noticeable around body orifices, such as the mouth, eyes, nostrils, genitalia and umbilicus. Some lesions have increased skin pigment around the edges. Patients who are stigmatized for their condition may experience depression and similar mood disorders
Vitiligo is sometimes associated with autoimmune and inflammatory diseases such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, scleroderma, rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes mellitus, psoriasis, Addison’s disease, pernicious anemia, alopecia areata, and systemic lupus erythematosus.