Ira Shah
Consultant Pediatrician, Nanavati Hospital, Mumbai, India
First Created: 01/02/2013  Last Updated: 08/01/2015

Patient Education

What is Vitiligo?

Vitiligo is a skin disorder that leads to white patches over the skin.

What is the cause of vitiligo?

The cause of vitiligo is not known. However, it is seen more commonly in patients with diabetes mellitus, thyroid disease, and other autoimmune diseases. There is a progressive loss of melanin in the skin. (Melanin is the pigment that gives color to the skin). This is due to the destruction of cells called melanocytes from where melanin is produced.

How does a patient with vitiligo present?

Patients present with white patches over the skin. The areas commonly involved are the back of hands, fingers, elbows, and knees; around eyes, mouth, and nose; armpits; groins; legs; wrists; nipples and genitalia. Hair in the affected patch may be white also.

Is vitiligo contagious?

No, vitiligo is not contagious.

What is the treatment for vitiligo?

Treatment consists of:

  • Steroid creams
  • Phototherapy with ultraviolet A light (UVA) along with ingestion of drugs called psoralen (P). This combined therapy is known as PUVA. Psoralen can be in the form of an oral drug or a topical lotion. Topical PUVA is used to treat vitiligo affecting limited skin regions.
  • Cosmetics to camouflage the area by using a color that matches the skin area.
  • Sunscreen: Areas affected by vitiligo are prone to sunburn due to the absence of melanin. Thus sunscreen lotions are required when exposure to sunlight is likely.

Vitiligo Vitiligo 2015-08-01
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