Vitiligo is a chronic condition in which skin loses its pigment cells (melanocytes), resulting in white patches. These patches are more susceptible to sunburn. Vitiligo may be localised or widespread, and hair and mucous membranes may also be affected.
While the exact cause of vitiligo in unknown, it is thought to be related to several factors including an underlying autoimmune process, genetics and environmental triggers such as stress, skin trauma and/or exposure to chemicals. Vitiligo is not contagious or life-threatening, but may cause significant distress for those affected.
Treatment for vitiligo may include:
- Sun protection
- Skin camouflage
- Topical cream
- PUVA or UVB therapy
- Surgical treatment (grafting)