Understanding Vitiligo


If you notice that white patches on your skin have started to appear, you may have vitiligo. Vitiligo is an autoimmune disease, meaning that the discoloration is caused by your own skin cells attacking themselves. More specifically, the disease targets the melanin-producing cells in your skin called melanocytes which give color to your skin.

Vitiligo can show up in multiple places or only affect a localized area. It may start in one small part of your skin before spreading to other regions. The only symptom that we typically see is the loss of pigmentation. However, if you have vitiligo, you may have increased risk of other autoimmune diseases.

Vitiligo can become apparent at any point in your life. For most people, though, this typically happens in their early 20s. Anyone can develop vitiligo, but it is more noticeable in darker-skinned individuals due to the symptoms.

There is no cure for vitiligo, but it can be treated to reduce the appearance of the symptoms. Topical prescriptions and phototherapy are often used in tandem and are effective at restoring color to affected areas. Phototherapy involves exposing the skin to ultraviolet rays in a controlled environment. It’s always done under the close supervision of a dermatologist.

Vitiligo is a fairly common condition, and our dermatologists have lots of experience diagnosing and treating it. If you see discolored white patches anywhere on your skin, schedule a same day or next day appointment with one of our dermatologists by calling 651-209-1600 or by visiting our website.

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