Last Updated : 1/2/2014
Ira Shah
What is



Vitiligo is a skin disorder that leads to white patches over the skin.

What is the

cause of vitiligo


The cause of vitiligo is not known. However, it is seen more commonly in patients with diabetes mellitus, thyroid disease and other autoimmune disease. There is progressive loss of melanin in the skin. (Melanin is the pigment that gives color to the skin). This is due to destruction of cells called melanocytes from where melanin is produced.

How does a patient with vitiligo present?
Patients present with

white patches over the skin

. The areas commonly involved are back of hands, fingers, elbows and knees; around eyes, mouth and nose; armpits; groins; legs; wrists; nipples and genitalia. Hair in the affected patch may be white also.

Is vitiligo contagious?
No, vitiligo is not contagious.

What is the

treatment for vitiligo


Treatment consists of:

Steroid creams


Phototherapy with ultraviolet A light (UVA) along with ingestion of drugs called psoralen (P).

This combined therapy is known as PUVA. Psoralen can be in the form of an oral drug or a topical lotion. Topical PUVA is used to treat vitiligo affecting limited skin regions.

Cosmetics to camouflage the area by using color that matches the skin area.



: Areas affected by vitiligo are prone to sunburn due to absence of melanin. Thus sunscreen lotions are required when exposure to sunlight is likely.

Contributor Information and Disclosures

Ira Shah
Consultant Pediatrician, Nanavati Hospital, Mumbai, India

First Created : 1/2/2013


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