Vitiligo (vit-ih-LIE-go)

is a disease that causes loss of skin color in patches. The discolored areas usually get bigger with time. The condition can affect the skin on any part of the body. It can also affect hair and the inside of the mouth.

Normally, the color of hair and skin is determined by melanin. Vitiligo occurs when cells that produce melanin die or stop functioning. Vitiligo affects people of all skin types, but it may be more noticeable in people with darker skin. The condition is not life-threatening or contagious. It can be stressful or make you feel bad about yourself.

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Symptoms of Vitiligo

The only symptom of vitiligo is the appearance of flat white spots or patches on the skin. The first white spot that becomes noticeable is often in an area that tends to be exposed to the sun.

It starts as a simple spot, a little paler than the rest of the skin, but as time passes, this spot becomes paler until it turns white.

The patches are irregular in shape. At times, the edges can become a little inflamed with a slight red tone, sometimes resulting in itchiness.

Normally, however, it does not cause any discomfort, irritation, soreness, or dryness in the skin.

The effects of vitiligo vary between people. Some people may have only a handful of white dots that develop no further, while others develop larger white patches that join together and affect larger areas of skin.

Types of vitiligo

1-Nonsegmental vitiligo (also known as bilateral vitiligo, vitiligo vulgaris, and generalized vitiligo) This is the most common type of vitiligo and results in white patches appearing on both sides of the body. Usually it starts near the hands, around the eyes or mouth, on the feet, or in an area of the body where the skin rubs together frequently. With nonsegmental vitiligo, color loss comes in spurts over the course of one’s life, spreading and becoming more noticeable as time goes on.

2-Segmental vitiligo (also known as unilateral vitiligo) This type of vitiligo usually starts when a person is young. It generally progresses for a year or so before it stops. Segmental vitiligo appears in one area (or segment, hence the name) of the body, such as on one arm or one leg. In about 50 percent of cases, it’s accompanied by color changes in the hair, eyebrows, or eyelashes. Segmental vitiligo is less common than nonsegmental vitiligo and affects about 1 in 10 vitiligo patients.

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