What Is Vitiligo?
Vitiligo is an acquired condition that causes the skin to lose color. It is neither contagious nor life threatening. Besides on the skin, vitiligo can develop anywhere on the body that has pigment, such as the hair, inside the mouth or the eyes.
What Causes Vitiligo?
The exact cause is unknown, but genetic factors are thought to play a role. Vitiligo develops when cells called melanocytes that produce pigment die. Possible causes of the condition include:
- An autoimmune process in which the body's own immune system attack melanocytes
- A problem in the body’s nervous system that causes these cells to die
Signs and Symptoms of Vitiligo
The condition usually has no symptoms other than the loss of color in the skin. The affected areas of skin are not just lighter in color, but are depigmented (without any pigment) or chalk-white. Any part of the body can be affected but typical areas are the:
- Hands and arms
- Areas around body orifices (mouth, eyes, nose, anus)
- Feet and legs
Treatment for Vitiligo
The main goals for treating vitiligo are regaining pigment in affected areas and minimizing the contrast between normal and affected skin, through sunscreen and sun avoidance.
Dermatologists at UCLA may recommend such treatment options as:
- Topical (skin-based) steroids
- Ultraviolet light or laser treatment
- Skin grafting
- Makeup such as Dermablend to help camouflage affected areas
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call (310) 825-6911.