Vitiligo Q & A
What is vitiligo?
Vitiligo is a chronic skin disorder that occurs when the cells responsible for producing melanin, the pigment that gives color to the skin, die or stop functioning properly. As a result, depigmented patches appear on the skin, often with sharp boundaries. These patches can vary in size and shape and can occur anywhere on the body, including the face, hands, arms, legs, and even the scalp.
What causes vitiligo?
The exact cause of vitiligo is still unknown, but researchers believe it is a combination of genetic, autoimmune, and environmental factors. It is believed that an autoimmune reaction may play a role, where the body's immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys melanocytes, the pigment-producing cells in the skin.
Is vitiligo dangerous?
Vitiligo itself is not dangerous or life-threatening. However, the emotional and psychological impact of living with vitiligo can be significant. Many individuals with vitiligo experience self-consciousness, low self-esteem, and social stigmatization due to the visible nature of the condition. It's important to seek emotional support and connect with others who share similar experiences to cope with the challenges associated with vitiligo.
What is the treatment and prognosis for vitiligo?
While there is currently no cure for vitiligo, there are treatment options available to help manage the condition and improve the appearance of the affected skin. These include topical corticosteroids, topical calcineurin inhibitors, narrowband ultraviolet B (NB-UVB) therapy, newer topical treatments like Opzelura, and surgical procedures such as skin grafting and tattooing. The choice of treatment depends on various factors, including the extent of the condition and the patient's preferences.
The prognosis for vitiligo varies from person to person. In some cases, spontaneous repigmentation may occur, where the white patches regain their color naturally. However, for many individuals, the condition is chronic and requires ongoing management. At Pure Dermatology, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Christopher Chu MD, FAAD and Chelsey Straight MD, FAAD can help you choose the right treatment option for you.