What is Vitiligo?

Vitiligo is a chronic skin condition where some areas of the skin lose their natural color and become discolored. It is caused by a lack of melanin, a pigment that gives skin its color. While it is not life-threatening, it can cause mental and physical distress. The condition can affect any area of the body including the face, arms, legs, and back.

Symptoms of Vitiligo

Common symptoms of vitiligo include: white patches or spots on the skin, a loss of pigmentation in areas of the skin, depigmentation as the affected patches continue to grow in size, hyperesthesia in the white patches, darkening of the skin in areas around the depigmented areas, and itching in the white patches.

Causes of Vitiligo

The exact cause of vitiligo is unknown, however, there is evidence to suggest that both genetics and environmental factors may play a role in the development of the condition. Environmental triggers may include exposure to strong chemicals or sunlight, physical trauma, stress, or an autoimmune disease.

Treatment Options

The goal of a vitiligo treatment plan is to restore skin color. That said, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to treating vitiligo. Treatment options may include the following:

  • Topical corticosteroids: Topical corticosteroids may help to treat mild vitiligo. These drugs work by reducing inflammation.
  • Phototherapy: Phototherapy uses ultraviolet (UV) light to stimulate melanin production. The treatment can be used on its own or in combination with topical medications.
  • Oral medications: Oral medications such as systemic corticosteroids, immune-suppressing drugs, and vitamin D analogs can be used to treat vitiligo.
  • Skin grafts : Skin grafts involve taking a small patch of healthy skin from an area of the body and grafting it onto the affected area.
  • Depigmentation: Depigmentation is a process that uses a drug or cream to stop the production of melanin in the skin. It is usually reserved for cases of widespread vitiligo.


There is no sure way to prevent vitiligo, but there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of developing the condition. These include avoiding or limiting exposure to sunlight (especially if you have a high risk of developing vitiligo), wearing sun-protective clothing and using sunscreen, and avoiding chemicals or irritants that may trigger the condition.