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Vitiligo - Symptom, Treatment And Causes

What is Vitiligo?

Vitiligo is a disease caused by destruction of the skin’s melanocytes in certain areas of the body.Patients suffering from this disease are seen with white patches in any location of the body.Vitiligo can be localized and focal in one area, or it may be found in different areas on the body.

Causes :

Although the exact cause for this skin depigmentation malady is still unknown, but it is believed that this illness happens, when the patient’s immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys certain cells within its own body. Hence this disease arises out of an autoimmune condition in the patient’s body. Generally people develop this illness prior to their age of 40, and out of them half of the people develop this condition even before they are in their 20s.Experts say that this disease can have a genetic component in it, since it has been observed that vitiligo run on members of the family.However, experts on this disease are also of the opinion, that vitiligo can also occur because of associated medical conditions, like dysfunction of the thyroid glands.

Symptoms :

Although patients with vitiligo often suffer from emotional and psychological distress, but this disease itself is painless and do not have any significant health consequences.It has been observed that there is no way by which the doctors can predict whether this depigmentation of the skin will remain confined in one location or spread all over the patient’s body.The vitiligo patches are more common in those areas on the body, which are exposed to the sun. It appears mostly on the foot, face, hands and lip. However, it can also surface in areas like on the patient’s navel, armpits and groin, genitals and near the rectal area.

Treatment :

Currently, there are several options for treating this disease and most of these treatments are aimed at restoring the natural color of the patient’s skin. Medical treatment for vitiligo include taking oral medicines, exposing the skin to ultraviolet radiation or using medicated fairness creams.Although it’s a rare procedure, skin grafting from a patient’s own tissue is also done in certain circumstances. Many people suffering from this embarrassing disease, have found that finding a cosmetic that cover their white patches helps them to feel better about themselves. For this the patient suffering from this illness, need to try several brands of concealing cosmetics before finding out the right product that matches the need.

Can't be cured, but treatment helps Usually self diagnosable Lab test not required Chronic: can last for years or be lifelong Non communicable
White patches on the skin in one or several places. Sensitivity to sun light

Popular Health Tips

Vitiligo - Ways It Can Be Treated!

MBBS Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery
Dermatologist, Delhi
Vitiligo - Ways It Can Be Treated!

Vitiligo is a disease which results in the loss of skin colouring pigment and ultimately the person loose his or her skin colour in blotches. The rate and to what extent the colour loss will happen is always unpredictable. When the Melanocytes cells lose their ability or get destroyed completely, the human skin starts losing it's skin colour produced by these Melanocyte cells. Vitiligo can generally affect skin present of any body part. Vitiligo is a common disease and it affects almost one million people every year all over the world. The disease can affect a person of any age.

Causes of Vitiligo

There are different causes due to which Vitiligo is caused. Let us have a look :

  1. Vitiligo can happen due to an autoimmune disorder, when the immune system becomes overactive and results in the destruction of the colour pigment-producing cells i.e. the Melanocytes.
  2. Vitiligo is also believed to affect people because of genetic factors. The immune system can get affected by the genes and results in a loss of skin colouring melanocytes. It can be hereditary and gets passed on. However, it is not at all contagious and cannot be passed on to someone else.
  3. Harmful exposure to UV rays can cause the body to loose melanocyte cells. Heavy sunburn is also a common cause of the disease.
  4. A stressful life schedule or oxidative stress imbalance can easily make the melanocyte cells to go weak and eventually wither away.
  5. A foreign virus or bacteria which may enter into the immune system and if not destroyed affects the melanocytes in different parts of the body.

Treatment for Vitiligo-

Vitiligo Treatment or White Patches Treatment is based on improving your skin’s appearance by restoring its colour. Re-pigmentation treatment is most successful on face and trunk; hands, feet and areas with white hair respond poorly. Compared to long-standing patches, new ones are more likely to respond to medical therapy.

The treatment can be classified into


  1. Medicines applied to the skin, such as:
    • Corticosteroid creams or ointments
    • Immunomodulator creams or ointments, such as Elidel & Protopic
    • Topical drugs such as methoxsalen (Oxsoralen)
    • Oral Medical treatment includes the use of immune-modulating drugs such as systemic corticosteroids, levamisole, cyclophosphamide, azathioprine, vitamin supplements (especially vitamin B12 and folic acid).
  2. Phototherapy NBUVB full body – A medical procedure in which your skin is exposed to ultraviolet A (UVA) or ultraviolet B (UVB) light from a special lamp in full body chambers.
  3. Excimer (Targeted Phototherapy) – Targeted phototherapy, also called concentrated phototherapy, focused phototherapy and microphototherapy, involves delivery of ultraviolet radiation directly focused on, or targeted at, the skin lesion through special delivery mechanisms.

Surgical Procedures

  1. Surgical treatment – Normal skin is used as donor tissue and then grafts are surgically transplanted on areas of Vitiligo treatment. The new skin grafts start producing pigment. Patients who are candidates for this procedure must have stable Vitiligo, or Vitiligo that has not changed for at least one year. The criteria of stability is taken as (a) no new White patches, (b) no extension of existing White patches and (c) no loss of pigmentation of previously repigmened patches for at least 1 year. This procedure can be used for patients with limited areas of Vitiligo and also in those with more extensive disease.
  2. Melanocyte cell transplantation – In this procedure, a skin graft is taken from the patients own thigh, this skin is then treated with an enzyme known as trypsin which separates all the layers of the skin and thus Melanocytes and Keratinocytes are concentrated. The Vitiligo (Skin White Spot) skin is then removed with the use of diamond burs or Lasers and the cells are transplanted. The advantage of this procedure is that cell culture is not needed and that skin harvesting from the donor area, preparation of cell separation and application of Melanocytes can all be undertaken in a single 3-h procedure.
  3. Blister Grafting – In this procedure, blisters are created on your pigmented skin primarily by using suction. The tops of the blisters are then cut out and transplanted to a depigmented skin area where a blister of equal size has been created and removed.
  4. Punch grafting – Punch grafting is the simplest and the least expensive of all the grafting procedures in Vitiligo. The procedure involves the transfer of circular pieces or punches of skin tissue from the donor area into similar shaped pits that are made on the recipient skin. The size of these punches can range from 1 mm to 2 mm and they are spaced 5-10 mm apart on the recipient skin.
    • De-pigmentation – Depigmentation involves fading the rest of the skin on your body to match the already-white areas. If you have vitiligo on more than 50 percent of your body, depigmentation may be the best treatment option. In this procedure, the drug monobenzone (Benoquin) is applied twice a day to the pigmented areas of your skin until they match the already-depigmented areas. Some patients who are resistant to depigmentation with drug monobenzone (Benoquin) will need Q Switch NDYAG Laser to destroy the pigment cells. Depigmentation in most patients is a permanent technique in which the whole body is gradually turned white.
    • Color (Camouflage) – Camouflage used to treat vitiligo can be classified into two- temporary and permanent. ​
      • Temporary colouring is the method which intends to blend the white patches with the rest of the body’s colour. The method is done using coloured creams to the affected skin. Those creams will have the same shade as that of the natural skin. Applying the creams make the patches less noticeable.
      • Tattooing (permanent coloring) – Tattooing is injecting artificial pigment into the depigmented area. After selecting the pigment shade which matches the surrounding skin color, the pigment granules are implanted into the depigmented patch either with a manual or electrically driven needles. Though the patch resembles the surrounding normal skin, it may permanently fade or acquire a bluish hue after 1 – 2 years which is distinctly noticeable and may become unacceptable. Hence, tattooing is usually not advised unless the patch is in an inoperable site.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

4015 people found this helpful

White Scaly Patches On Skin - Can It Be A Sign Of Seborrheic Dermatitis?

MD - Dermatology , Fellowship in Hair Transplant
Dermatologist, Nashik
White Scaly Patches On Skin - Can It Be A Sign Of Seborrheic Dermatitis?

Seborrheic dermatitis is a dermatological disorder that is characterized by the appearance of itchy, red rashes and flaky scales. The symptoms are similar to those of eczema, psoriasis or an allergic reaction. The disease usually affects the scalp and the body. It is not a serious disorder, but it can end up being a cosmetic concern.

The symptoms of this disorder include appearance of skin flakes on the scalp (dandruff), redness of the skin, an itchy skin and crusting of the eyelids. It can affect one’s daily activities because of the irritation that it entails. In case of babies, it is often mistaken for diaper rashes.

Possible triggers
The exact cause of this disorder is not known. Certain factors are known to trigger the symptoms of this disorder; them being:

  • Stress
  • Yeast infection
  • Genetic structure
  • Weather
  • Medical conditions

Certain medical conditions such as acne, AIDS, depression and rosacea increase the risks of seborrheic dermatitis significantly.

The treatments for seborrheic dermatitis include using medicated shampoos, lotions and creams. The various treatment options that are available for seborrheic dermatitis have been listed below:

  1. Antifungal medications: Antifungal medicated pills such as ‘terbinafine’ are prescribed to treat this disorder. They may also be used as an ingredient in shampoos.
  2. Inflammation controlling creams and shampoos: Corticosteroids such as ‘desonide’, ‘hydrocortisone’ and ‘fluocinolone’ are often prescribed to treat seborrheic dermatitis. However, a prolonged usage of these topical creams and shampoos might cause skin thinning.
  3. Antibacterial medications: Certain antibacterial gels or creams can be used such as ‘metronidazole’.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

4128 people found this helpful

Skin Pigmentation - Things You Must Know About It!

Dermatologist, Chennai
Skin Pigmentation - Things You Must Know About It!

Skin pigmentation refers to the discolouration of the skin in certain parts. The colouration of skin is attained on the basis of the concentration of a pigment called melanin present in the skin. This pigment is produced by specialised cells present in the skin. Some affect only patches of skin while the other pigmentation disorders can affect the whole body.

When melanin is produced in more quantity, it makes your skin darker. This can happen in cases of pregnancy, sun exposure and Addison’s disease. Under production of melanin causes your skin to get lighter. Vitiligo is a condition wherein patches of the skin are not able to produce melanin. Genetic disorders such as Albinism is characterised by the absence of the pigment melanin in the body.
Other things that can cause skin pigmentation are burns, blisters or infections.

The types of skin pigmentation are categorised as
On the basis of appearance and texture, skin pigmentation is differentiated as:

  1. Patches of lighter skin
  2. Areas on the face that have reddened
  3. Areas that are darker which may be rough to touch or feel
  4. Any area that has been darkened or becomes light caused by injuries, scratches or burns

Skin Darkening
Darkening of the skin can sometimes be spontaneous or it may occur due to environmental factors such as sun exposure or sometimes genetic issues. 

  1. Melasma: This refers to the darkening of the skin on the face. It can happen to anyone. Women who are pregnant or take birth control pills are more likely to develop Melasma. Also women who live in more tropical climates are prone to developing Melasma.
  2. Birth Mark: It is a patch of usually darker skin that is present since birth and is generally life-long. They are usually harmful, but if more of those appear, then it is better to consult your dermatologist.

Skin Lightening
The most common reasons are infections or injuries. Although, the more severe conditions are-

  1. Vitiligo: It is characterised by the presence of patches of skin that are lighter than others. This occurs due to the malfunctioning of cells in a focal area that stop producing melanin. This can be serious and you must consult a dermatologist as soon as possible.
  2. Tinea Versicolour: The symptoms of these resemble Vitiligo, but it is actually a fungal infection that attacks the skin cells and causes discolouration.
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Camouflage Treatment In Vitiligo!

MBBS, MD - Dermatology , Venereology & Leprosy, DNB( Dermatology and Venereology), Clinical Observership in Pediatric Dermatology, Clinical Observer ship in Contact Dermatitis
Dermatologist, Delhi
Camouflage Treatment In Vitiligo!

Vitiligo is a long term skin condition characterized by patches of the skin losing their pigment. The patches of skin affected become white and usually have sharp margins. The hair from the skin may also become white. Although this disease is not life threatening or contagious, the disfigurement of vitiligo can be devastating to its sufferers, especially the ones with darker skin tone.

There are certain treatment options that can help.

  1. Topical preparations of immune suppressing medications, creams and steroids are considered to be first-line vitiligo treatments.
  2. Next option is to expose the affected skin to UVB lamps with the phototherapy treatment at home or get the Ultra violet (UVA) treatment at a hospital.
  3. In extreme cases of extensive vitiligo the option to de-pigment the unaffected skin may be considered to render the skin an even colour.
  4. However, in mild cases, vitiligo patches can be hidden with makeup or other cosmetic camouflage solutions. If the affected person is pale skinned, the patches can be made less visible by avoiding tanning of the unaffected skin.

Camouflage Treatment In Vitiligo
Camouflage is derived from the French word, ‘Camoufler’ which means ‘to blind’ or ‘veil’. Also known as protective concealment, it means to disguise an object in plain view, for the purpose of concealing it from something or someone. Cosmetic camouflage is the application of make-up creams and/or powders to conceal color or contour irregularities or abnormalities of the face or body. It was pioneered during the Second World War to help pilots who were badly burnt by making use of plastic surgery and camouflage cream. These creams did not camouflage the person but were used to conceal blemishes on the skin so that they were not obvious. This kind of remedial cosmetic skin camouflage is defined as being the ‘the art of concealing a discoloration, blemish or scar with the application of specialist camouflage creams that are matched to the surrounding skin tone.’ Nowadays, it is used to conceal abnormalities from various dermatological disorders, especially vitiligo.

Types of Camouflage
Camouflage may be permanent or temporary.

  1. Remedial cosmetic cover creams help conceal the blemish of vitiligo at least temporarily. A high concentration of pigment is incorporated into water–free or anhydrous foundations to give a color that matches the patient’s skin, thereby concealing vitiligo patches.
  2. Permanent camouflage is obtained with a cosmetic tattoo. Unlike pigments used for ritual or symbolic tattoos, cosmetic tattoos are inert iron oxides that are available in more than 15 shades. The color is implanted into the dermal layer with specialized techniques and cannot be washed off.

Camouflage improves the appearance of the individual, as the focus is no longer on the discoloration that the person wishes to hide, thereby improving their confidence and self-esteem. This makes camouflage the most popular treatment option in vitilgo. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a Dermatologist.

2985 people found this helpful

Vitiligo - Signs You Are Suffering From It!

MBBS, DDV, Aesthetic medicine
Dermatologist, Delhi
Vitiligo - Signs You Are Suffering From It!

If you see continual and long-term white patches of depigmentation on your skin, it could be vitiligo. Vitiligo is a condition that appears when melanocytes in your skin are no more alive. This bunch of cells is responsible for producing the melanin pigment that endows the skin with its colour as well as protects it from the harmful UV rays. The area which may be affected by this dermatological disease varies from person to person, and it can also affect the hair, mouth and eyes as well. In most cases, the vitiligo affected area stays discoloured for the rest of the patient’s life.

Various types of vitiligo and their symptoms
Scientists have classified vitiligo into two types: segmental and non-segmental. The non-segmental vitiligo is the most common variant and 90 percent of vitiligo affected patients suffer from this kind of disorder. In this disease, the patches take place with little symmetry on both sides of the body. It can be further broken down into 5 sub-divisions.

  1. Generalised vitiligo: It can occur at any part of the body without any rules, and this is by far the most common type.
  2. Acrofacial vitiligo: It is mostly seen on the toes and fingers.
  3. Mucosal vitiligo: In this condition, the discolouration normally takes place around the lips and mucous membranes.
  4. Universal vitiligo: This is the rarest type of vitiligo where the whole body is covered in white patches.
  5. Focal vitiligo: This is most commonly found in children. The children have white and scattered patches across the body.

Possible treatments for vitiligo

Though there are no treatments possible that will re-pigment your skin to its original colour, there are several remedies that aid in decreasing the visibility of white patches on the affected areas of the skin. Some of them include:

  1. Phototherapy with UVB radiation: This is a common form of treatment where the affected area is exposed to UVB radiation and can be performed at home too. If you have large white spots across the body, it is important to have the treatment performed by an expert at any healthcare centre.
  2. Phototherapy with UVA radiation: In this treatment, a drug is first administered for increasing skin’s sensitivity to this radiation. Then the affected area of the skin is exposed to high doses of UVA radiation.
  3. Skin camouflage: In mild cases of vitiligo, cosmetic creams and make-up can be used to camouflage the affected area. It can last for about 12- 18 hours when applied in proper techniques.

In case you are suffering from vitiligo, it is crucial to speak with an expert and opt for the best means to curb down the impact of vitiligo.

2764 people found this helpful

Popular Questions & Answers

I have white spots on my lips and they are increasing very slowly but I'm concerned that it would bumps up on my lip line as well. Is there any remedy for this spots.

Dermatologist, Chennai
You are suffering from vitiligo. Medicine available for good improvement. As the treatment varies depending on the severity. Send photos of the affected area, by direct online consultation for accurate diagnosis and treatment.

My daughter around 10 years is undergoing treatment for vitiligo ,would request further advise and course of treatment medicine to reduce the patches in eyelids and lower leg areas.

MCh - Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, MS - General Surgery, MBBS Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery
Cosmetic/Plastic Surgeon, Delhi
Vitiligo is a benign disease. Which has various treatment modalities, best treatment option is melanocyte transplantation, this procedure is carried your using your own thigh skin. It has relatively good results with no side effects. First your vitiligo should be stable that it’s not growing for at least 1 year. Good luck.

I am 23 year old man and have white spot on my face when my skin gets dry ,it appears white races it happens only in cool season.

Dermatologist, Chennai
You are suffering from pityriasis Alba. Medicine available for good improvement. As the treatment varies depending on the severity. Send photos of the affected area, by direct online consultation for accurate diagnosis and treatment.
1 person found this helpful

I am 19 old boy, I have segmental vitiligo in said mouth with along up lip only . Sir it's 100%cure permanently or not? Which treatment full cure please help me?

MCh - Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, MS - General Surgery, MBBS Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery
Cosmetic/Plastic Surgeon, Delhi
Hello, this is a disease which is autoimmune and progressing in nature, you need to have many serial treatments, you can go for melanocyte grafting, it’s relatively new reagent and very effective indeed, kindly visit some plastic surgeon for this. Good luck.

Table of Content

What is Vitiligo?

Causes :

Symptoms :

Treatment :

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Know More About Vitiligo
Vitiligo is a long-term problem in which growing patches of skin lose their color. It can affect people of any age, gender, or ethnic group.Often the patches begin on areas of skin that are exposed to the sun. It is more noticeable in people with dark skin.
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Vitiligo can affect people of any age, gender, or ethnicity. It is not contagious.Its a skin condition in which patches of skin loses their color. It is hard to predict whether the patches will spread, and by how much. The spread might take weeks, or the patches might remain stable for months or years.
Play video
Vitiligo is a long-term problem in which growing patches of skin lose their color. It is hard to predict whether the patches will spread, and by how much. The spread might take weeks, or the patches might remain stable for months or years.A number of remedies can help decrease the visibility of the condition.
Play video
Vitiligo: Treatment Options To Get Rid Of It
Hi friends!

My name is Dr. Munish Paul. I am a dermatologist practicing in Delhi for the past 18 years now. We have been dealing with a variety of skin diseases starting from allergies, acne, pigmentation, psoriasis and vitligo. We are a team of more than 15 people running the centre for almost 18 to 20 years now. It is a state of art Skin Centre with the latest equipments in terms of hair removal lasers, pigmentation lasers, phototherapy machines, excimer laser. Our main focus of treatment out here is the treatment of vitiligo. Vitligo is also known as a Leucoderma or in common terms we call it as the white patches. So this is a disease in which the patient gets white spots anywhere on the body.

It can start at any age group starting from as early as 1 year to the age of 8 years. Both men and women are equally involved in it and it's a big social concern because these patients of vitligo because of the cosmetic recommend face lot of biasing in the society. They get difficulties in getting a job, they have difficulty getting married, difficulty into getting into some profession. So the treatment is important. The treatment of vitiligo grossly divided into medical, surgical and camouflage. Just to explain to your medical treatment is done when the disease is spreading actively so it is in the form of certain medicines and with the use of phototherapy chambers and excimer lasers. Phototherapy is a device, is a chamber also known as UV-B chamber but in which the patient has to stand after undressing and his skin is given exposure to ultraviolet B rays. The duration of the therapy can vary from 30 seconds to 4 minutes depending on the disease.

Sessions are normally given twice or thrice a week with which the pigmentation start appearing and we see that the area with the patient with vitiligo patches or the white patches are on the black hair respond way faster to the treatment. Now there are some patients which have the very localised disease. In such patients we use the excimer laser that means we do not have to expose the whole body to the phototherapy. Only the localised disease patches can be exposed to the laser light or the UV light. So there is no tanning of the uninvolved skin. With the use of medicines, phototherapy and excimer the patches having black hair will respond. Areas as the fingertips or the lips or areas where the hair have gone white will not respond to any type of medical treatment. So these area are normally treated with surgical method known as Melanocyte transplantation.

Now Melanocyte transplantation is a procedure which is surgical which is done only in patients stable from minimum 1 year. 1 year the patches have not spread anywhere on the body. So in this process it can be done using local anaesthesia or full anaesthesia depending on how much area is involved. Large areas are done under general anaesthesia. So what we do is we take a small bit of skin from the patients own thigh. We trypsinize the sample that means we enzymatically separate all the layers of the skin. Then by filtration method we separate the melanocytes. That's the first step of the process and then the white patch the top layer the epidermis is removed and the cells are implanted. Then it is covered with a dressing which is known as Collagen followed by a gauze and pad.

Dressings and normally left for a week. Once you remove the dressing it looks pink but within three weeks the pigmentation starts. The biggest advantage of the procedure is it gives excellent colour and texture matching and again second advantages with a very small area we can treat a very large area. What we say is the donor recipient ratio that is the area you take from the thigh to the are to be treated is in the ratio 1:10. That means if we take 5 cm of the skin from thigh we can treat 50 cm of the vitligo area. All body parts including face, eyelids, lips, fingertips, trunk, knee, elbows most of the body parts can be treated successfully with this treatment.

Now there are certain patients which will have very very extensive disease where involvement of vitiligo is more than say 50% or 70%. Now in such patient, we cannot really get the pigment back so the choice of treatment is Deep Pigmentation. So what is Deep Pigmentation? Deep Pigmentation is that we remove the remaining brown. So the patient is already white so whatever little bit brown is left that is removed. This is usually done with a laser and certain medicines depending on the site patient might need four to five sessions with which the colour can be made uniform and most patients feel very happy about this treatment. We also have a system of camouflage for the treatment of vitiligo. These are camouflage system or makeup covers which comes in multiple shades and we can help patient match the colour and these can provider extended cover for more than two to three days and they are water resistant. So in patients of vitligo the treatments are very different. The use of medicines phototherapy, excimer, surgical processes, camouflage systems we can manage a vitiligo patient much better. We are totally committed and dedicated to all our patients to treat Vitligo.

Thank you so much!
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