Vitiligo is an autoimmune condition, whereby one’s own immune system attacks the cells the make pigment in the affected areas of the body.
Who gets vitiligo ?
Both children and adults can get vitiligo. It occurs more commonly in those with other autoimmune conditions.
How do I know if I have it?
Areas of the skin will have complete loss of pigment and are generally well demarcated. At times these areas occur along the segments of the face or in areas of friction on the body, such as the knees. It is best diagnosed by a dermatologist.
How can I treat it?
It is treated typically with a strong topical steroid, as well as other anti-inflammatory ointments and vitamin D analog ointments. If widespread, sometimes phototherapy is used and, if persistent, a type of laser maybe tried, excimer laser. Certain areas of the body are known to respond better to treatment than other areas of the body. It is also important to utilize sun protection on affected areas, because areas of the skin without melanin are more prone to skin cancer.
How can I prevent it?
To prevent the spread of vitiligo, it is important to protect the skin from trauma. It may also help to supplement with oral vitamin D.
When should I see a dermatologist about it?
You should see a dermatologist for your vitiligo as soon as you notice lighter spots on the skin to confirm the diagnosis and start treatment early.
The National Vitiligo Foundation
American Academy of Dermatology