Wentworth-Douglass Hospital
(603) 742-5252
Decrease (-) Restore Default Increase (+) font size
Physicians
Site Search

Vitiligo
Vitiligo


Vitiligo, drug induced
Vitiligo, drug induced


Vitiligo on the face
Vitiligo on the face


Vitiligo on the back and arm
Vitiligo on the back and arm


Definition:

Vitiligo is a skin condition in which there is loss of pigment (color) from areas of skin, resulting in irregular white patches that feel like normal skin.



Causes, incidence, and risk factors:

Vitiligo appears to be an acquired condition and may appear at any age. There is an increased rate of the condition in some families.

The cause of vitiligo is unknown, but autoimmunity may be a factor. Vitiligo is associated with three systemic diseases:

The condition affects about 1% of the United States population.



Symptoms:

Vitiligo is more noticeable in darker skinned people because of the contrast of white patches against dark skin.

There is a sudden or gradual appearance of flat areas of normal-feeling skin with complete pigment loss. Lesions appear as flat areas with no pigment and with a darker border. The edges are sharply defined but irregular.

Frequently affected areas are the face, elbows and knees, hands and feet, and genitalia.



Signs and tests:

Examination is usually sufficient to confirm the diagnosis. In some cases, a skin biopsy may be needed to rule out other causes of pigment loss. Your doctor may also perform blood tests to check the levels of thyroid or other hormones, and vitamin B12 levels.



Treatment:

Vitiligo is difficult to treat. Early treatment options include the following:

  • Light therapy (exposure to controlled intense ultraviolet light in a doctor's office or hospital)
  • Medicines taken by mouth such as trimethylpsoralen (Trisoralen)
  • Medicines applied to the skin such as:
    • Corticosteroid creams
    • Immunosuppressants such as pimecrolimus (Elidel) and tacrolimus (Protopic)
    • Repigmenting agents such as methoxsalen (Oxsoralen)

Skin may be grafted or removed from normal areas and placed onto areas of pigment loss.

Several manufacturers produce cover-up makeup or skin dyes to mask vitiligo. Ask your health care provider for the names of these companies.

In extreme cases when most of the body is affected, the remaining pigmented skin may be de-pigmented. This is a permanent change and is a last resort.

It is important to remember that skin without pigment is extremely susceptible to the sun's damaging effects. Be sure to apply a high-SPF sunblock and use appropriate safeguards against sun exposure.



Support Groups:

Expectations (prognosis):

The course of vitiligo varies. Some areas may regain pigmentation (coloring), but other new areas may appear. Loss of pigment may be progressive.



Complications:

Depigmented areas are more likely to sunburn or develop certain skin cancers.



Calling your health care provider:

Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you develop areas of skin that lose their coloring.



Prevention:




Review Date: 7/11/2008
Reviewed By: Michael Lehrer, M.D., Department of Dermatology, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
adam.com


Find What You Need

Events
Careers
Foundation
About Us
Contact
Directions
News
Social Media Agreement
Joint Notice
Web Privacy Policy
WDH Staff Portal

Centers & Services

Cancer Center
Cardiovascular Care
Joint Replacement
Women & Children's
Physician Offices
Other Services

Conditions & Treatments

Health Library

Support Services

Support Groups
Care-Van
Dental Center
Social Work
Food & Nutrition
Integrative Wellness
Spiritual Care
Concerns & Grievances
Homecare and Hospice

For Patients

Pay Your Bill Online
Pricing Estimates
Financial Assistance
Interpreter Services
Surgery Preparation
Medical Record Request
Advance Directives
Clinical Research & Trials

For Healthcare Professionals

Work and Life
Financial Well-Being
Career and Growth

The Wentworth-Douglass Health System includes:

 

Address

Wentworth-Douglass Hospital
789 Central Avenue, Dover, NH 03820
Phone: (603) 742-5252
Toll free: 1 (877) 201-7100