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Vitiligo is a skin condition in which there is a loss of natural skin colour (pigment) from certain areas of skin, resulting in irregular white patches that feel like normal skin.


Vitiligo appears on the skin due loss of brown colouring cells (melanocytes) when your own immune cells destroy the cells that produce them. This destruction is thought to lie with a fault in the body's immune system, which starts to attack its own skin cells for reasons that are not fully understood. Vitiligo may appear at any age


Even areas of normal-feeling skin without any pigment appear suddenly or gradually. These areas have a darker border with edges that are well-defined but irregular. Vitiligo most often affects the face, elbows and knees, hands and feet, and genitals. It affects both sides of the body equally


Skin without pigment is at greater risk of sun damage, so always apply a broad-spectrum (UVA and UVB), high-SPF (30+) sunscreen or sunblock and use appropriate safeguards against sun exposure. Some people choose not to treat vitiligo. If you decide not to treat vitiligo, it’s still important to see a dermatologist for an accurate diagnosis, as vitiligo is a medical condition, not just a cosmetic concern. Vitiligo is difficult to treat. Early treatment options include the following:

  • Phototherapy – a medical procedure in which your skin is carefully exposed to ultraviolet light. Phototherapy may be given alone, or after you take a drug that makes your skin sensitive to light. A dermatologist performs this treatment.
  • Medicines applied to the skin, such as:
    • Corticosteroid creams or ointments
    • Immunosuppressant creams or ointments and topical drugs.


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