Vitiligo – Causes and Treatments

Vitiligo is a condition that causes skin to lose its color. It is also referred to as losing pigmentation or depigmentation. While it is a lifelong condition, it is neither contagious nor life threatening. Vitiligo develops when melanocyte cells, which give color to our skin and hair, die.  It is usually a lifelong condition – very rarely it will go away.

With most people, patches of lighter skin appear, however with others it can affect skin color changes in the hair, eyes, inside the mouth, and genital areas. Rarely are there other symptoms, though some with vitiligo report that the affected skin is itchy or painful.

Vitiligo usually occurs before age 21. It occurs equally in males and females and in all skin colors and races. You may be more likely to get vitiligo if you are closely blood related to someone with vitiligo or if you have an autoimmune disease, especially Hashimoto’s or alopecia areata.

There are a variety of treatment options for vitiligo including use of cosmetics to make vitiligo less noticeable; prescribed medication including corticosteroids; laser light treatments to restore lost color; and PUVA light therapy which is a combination of UVA light therapy combined with the medication psoralen.

Discuss these treatments with your neighborhood Northstar dermatologist to determine what might work best for your specific vitiligo needs.

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