Vitiligo is a non-contagious disease in which the skin, eyes or hair lose their color. On the skin, color is lost in large sections. Vitiligo is the result of the loss of production of melanin, which is responsible for the color of the skin, eyes, and hair. Though vitiligo is not life-threatening, its appearance often has a deep psychological impact on its sufferers.
What are the symptoms?
Vitiligo is identified by skin that is significantly lighter than the skin on the rest of the body. Vitiligo can appear anywhere, but typically it will first develop on skin that is routinely exposed to sunlight.
Vitiligo symptoms may also appear inside the mouth or nose, where a loss of color can be seen, or in the eyes when the retina loses color.
Skin affected by vitiligo rarely reverts to its normal color.
Who gets it?
The exact cause of vitiligo is unknown; however, it is more prevalent in people who:
- Have a family history of the disease
- Have experienced a “trigger event,” such as high stress, sunburn, or exposure to chemicals
- Are under the age of 35
- Have darker skin
Drugs cannot halt vitiligo’s progress; however, some drugs, or some drugs used in combination with other remedies, can improve skin color. Some vitiligo treatments have significant side effects, and it is best to check with your Forefront dermatologist to determine the treatment that is best for you. Treatment options include:
- Creams that control inflammation
- Calcipotriene (Dovonex) – a cream that can be used with corticosteroids or ultraviolet light
- Medications to support the immune system
- Light therapy
- UV phototherapy
- Excimer laser therapy