What Is Vitiligo?

A long-term skin condition, vitiligo is characterized by the loss of skin color in patches. It occurs when the cells that produce pigment in the skin (melanocytes) are destroyed or stop functioning. As a result, parts of your skin affected by the condition become white or depigmented. You might see it on any body area, but it most commonly appears on the face, neck, hands, and other sun-exposed areas. Although it is not painful, the lighter skin patches affected by vitiligo are more prone to painful sunburns, so wearing sun protection is essential.

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Who Gets Vitiligo?

Vitiligo can affect people of all ages, races, and genders. It tends to be more noticeable in people with darker skin because the contrast between the depigmented patches and the surrounding skin is more pronounced. Still, any skin tone can experience the condition. Vitiligo is not contagious; however, having one of the following autoimmune conditions can increase your risk of developing it.

  • Anemia
  • Addison’s disease
  • Lupus
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Psoriasis
  • Thyroid disease

Types of Vitiligo


Appearing on both sides of the body with symmetrical patches of depigmentation, generalized vitiligo is considered the most common form it takes.


Affecting only one side or segment of the body, such as one arm, leg, or hand, segmental vitiligo appears earlier in life and progresses more rapidly.


A rare form of the condition, with universal vitiligo, depigmentation affects nearly the entire body, including the face, trunk, and limbs.


This type of vitiligo is rare and appears as a few scattered white patches on the skin that don’t spread.


Mucosal vitiligo affects the body's mucous membranes, such as the lips, mouth, and genital area.

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Vitiligo Treatment Options

While no cure for vitiligo exists, various treatment options can help improve your skin's appearance. Which treatment to choose depends on the extent and location of the vitiligo patches, your preferences, and your medical history. Your dermatologist or healthcare provider can discuss each option’s benefits and risks to help you decide the best action for you. Some treatment options include the following.

Topical Treatments 

Creams or ointments can help reduce inflammation or suppress the immune system’s response to the skin. These treatments are most effective for small patches or sensitive areas affected by vitiligo, such as the face, neck, or groin.


By exposing the skin to ultraviolet light, phototherapy using narrowband UVB or laser therapy can stimulate melanocyte production and reduce inflammation, restoring a more even tone to your skin.

Skin Grafting 

Taking small patches of healthy, pigmented skin from one part of the body and transplanting them to the depigmented areas can improve the appearance of small patches of vitiligo on the skin. 


Using a tattooing technique, micropigmentation implants pigment into the depigmented areas of the skin to create the appearance of more even pigmentation, camouflaging the vitiligo. 

Want to Even Out Your Skin Tone?

Our medical providers at Skin Care Doctors offer a variety of non-surgical treatment options to transform the appearance of your skin. With phototherapy and laser treatments, you can experience a long-lasting improvement to your skin tone, regaining even pigmentation. Contact our office today to learn about the ideal options for your skin.

Better skin health starts here. Schedule your appointment today.

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