Vitiligo (Skin Pigment Disorders)
About Vitiligo and Skin Pigment Disorders
What are they?
Vitiligo is the patchy loss of your skin’s natural color. This occurs when melanin, the pigment that determines your skin’s color, is damaged or destroyed. Although vitiligo can negatively impact your self-esteem, it is physically harmless. Vitiligo affects about 2 percent of Americans and develops in people of all skin colors; however, if you have dark skin, the contrast between the dark skin and the lighter areas of color loss is more noticeable. Moreover, this condition is often unpredictable. You may personally experience only small patches of pigment loss, but for others, the condition may be much more widespread. It can be temporary for some and permanent for others. In extreme cases, it can alter a hair or eye color and/or develop inside the mouth.
What causes it?
The exact causes of vitiligo are unknown, but several possibilities are thought to be major contributors. Among these include immune system dysfunction, certain viruses, stress, sunburn, injury, and exposure to certain chemicals. As mentioned, symptoms include the development of white patches of skin, often with reddish-brown boundaries. These white patches can appear on many areas of the body, including the forehead, eye area, lips, mouth, hands, arms, elbows, underarms, knees, feet, neck, and torso.
Treatment for vitiligo varies and depends on the extent of your specific form of vitiligo. Realistic expectations are important and should include reducing the contrast between your normal skin and the lighter areas and improving your self-esteem and confidence. Effective solutions for vitiligo include topical medications, sun avoidance and/or sunscreen (SPF 30 minimum), UV-B light therapy, a combination light, and medication therapy, or, in severe cases, skin grafting.
Our approach & expertise
We know that sudden or unusual changes in your pigmentation, such as with vitiligo, can cause social and emotional distress. As your knowledgeable community skin healthcare providers, we have the knowledge to help you manage this condition. We” work with you to find the best solution, and you can lean on us for support in managing this condition.