What is Vitiligo?
Vitiligo is an autoimmune skin disease that causes the skin to lose pigmentation (colour) in either small or large patches on any part of the body. It can be temporary or permanent and can affect minimal areas or be widespread. Vitiligo affects people of all races. It is not contagious, but many people wish to treat it. From a medical perspective, the loss of pigment puts the patient at a greater risk of developing skin cancer in that affected area as there are no pigment cells to block the harmful UV rays of the sun. In some cultures, particularly cultures of darker skinned individuals, there is a stigma attached to this condition. Regardless of the race of the patient, this condition may cause a significant amount of psychological stress for the patient.
There are several treatment options available to treat vitiligo which are often more effective when the diagnosis is determined early on in the course of the condition. A dermatologist can distinguish between vitiligo and other hypopigmented (lightening of skin pigment) conditions in addition to coordinating treatment.