What is vitiligo?

Vitiligo is a skin pigmentation disorder that triggers the deactivation or disappearance of the melanin-producing cells (melanocytes), causing white patches to form in the affected area. On areas of skin not affected by vitiligo, the melanocytes function normally. This means that vitiligo is often more noticeable on darker skin tones or on sun-exposed skin, as the white patches create a striking contrast against the rest of the body.

Where does vitiligo occur?

Vitiligo commonly affects the:

  • hands and feet
  • area around the mouth and eyes
  • elbows
  • knees
  • genital area

The white patches, which have the same texture as the rest of the skin, appear symmetrically and can grow over time.

What are the causes of and treatments for vitiligo?

Vitiligo has no known cause and, therefore, has no known treatment. There are some suggestions that stimulating affected areas with UV lamps or lasers can help, but this is damaging to the skin and may cause more harm than good.

Living with vitiligo

While vitiligo does not create health problems, it can cause discomfort for sufferers as it usually appears on highly-exposed areas such as the face and hands.
Therefore, some individuals with vitiligo may wish to cover or camouflage the white patches cosmetically using special opaque foundations, such as Argillina Color, or self-tanning products.

Further insights