Vitiligo is a common pigmentary disorder which results in loss of pigment within the skin. Patients present with well demarcated white, pink to white, or depigmented patches that can affect any part of the body. Vitiligo can affect people of ages and backgrounds, but is more noticeable in people with darker or tanned skin. It is thought to be an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune cells attack pigment-producing cells within the skin called melanocytes. Other than physical discoloration of the skin, patients usually don’t experience other symptoms such as itching or irritation of the skin. Because vitiligo is caused by a malfunction of the immune system, patients may sometimes have other autoimmune disorders such as diabetes or hypothyroidism.
Treatment of vitiligo can often be challenging with limited improvement. The most common treatment options include topical corticosteroid creams or immunomodulatory creams aimed at suppressing the immune response locally. Unfortunately, results are often mild and limited, and do not prevent the appearance of new lesions elsewhere on the body. Other treatment options include light therapy and skin grafts. Light therapy has shown to be effective in some patients, but there is also an increased risk of burning and skin cancer. Skin grafts from healthy un-involved skin have shown limited improvement in some patients, but the process can be tedious and not commonly offered in a clinical setting.
Depending on your skin type and symptoms, our physician can help discuss the best options for you.