Vitiligo is an autoimmune skin color disorder. It appears on the skin as completely white patches (depigmentation) surrounded by normal skin. The white areas of skin do not contain the skin color producing cells called melanocytes. The hair found within the depigmented skin is often white also.
Symptoms and appearance
Vitiligo patches can be any size and may have various shapes. The most common sites for vitiligo are face, upper chest, backs of the hands, underarms, groin, eyes, nose, mouth, ears, genitalia, elbows and knees. The vitiligo often affects both sides of the body. The white patches of vitiligo are more sensitive to sun exposure than normal skin and can sunburn easily. Sun protection is very important for areas of vitiligo.
Vitiligo affects all races and both sexes equally. Vitiligo tends to run in families. It occurs in 1-2 percent of the population and is associated with another autoimmune disease 10-15 percent more than in the general population. Therefore, your doctor may want to check for an autoimmune condition called thyroid disease. This is done with a simple blood test.