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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!

4006 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:

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!

4126 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.
6 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.

2762 people found this helpful

All About Hives

Diploma In Dermatology And Venerology And Leprosy (DDVL), MBBS
Dermatologist, Thane
All About Hives

If stressed, consuming certain food and medications can trigger skin rashes. This kind of rash is called hives. It is also known as urticaria. Anyone can be affected by hives, at least 20% of people are affected by hives at some time or the other in their lives. The itching could be severe or mild. It starts as a patch of scaly white skin that develops into red welts over time. To make sure the itching does not worsen, scratching, emotional stress, alcoholic drinks and exercise should be avoided.


  1. Itchy bumps that are raised and are either red or flesh coloured
  2. If the hive is pressed in the middle, the skin whitens this symptom is called blanching.
  3. The hive formation can appear anywhere, disappear and then reappear somewhere else.

Common Triggers:

  1. Certain food like shellfish, eggs, peanuts and other nuts
  2. Certain medicines like antibiotics, ibuprofen and aspirin
  3. Insect bites or stings
  4. Physical causes like pressure, sun exposure, cold, exercise and heat
  5. Latex
  6. Blood transfusions
  7. Bacterial infections
  8. Pet allergens
  9. Viral infections like the common cold, hepatitis and infectious mononucleosis
  10. Certain plants like poison ivy and poison oak
  11. Pollen

There is no distinct cure for hives. But you can control its symptoms in the following ways:

  1. Antihistamines help in blocking histamines, which cause the allergy symptoms. Non sedating or low sedating Antihistamines will be mostly recommended by your doctor.
  2. If episodes of hives are several, it may require limited treatment with prednisone. Prednisone will be able to lessen the symptoms.
  3. If the symptoms get severe enough so much so that it swells up your tongue and you have problem breathing, then the doctor might prescribe an epinephrine. However, these symptoms can mean another thing, an anaphylaxis shock. Epinephrine is the only treatment for an anaphylaxis shock.

If what caused hives to break out is figured out, then measures should be taken to avoid or eliminate the triggers.

  1. Avoid eating food items that triggered the symptoms in the first place
  2. If harsh soaps, frequent bathing cause hives, they should be avoided
  3. Tight clothing should be avoided
  4. If cold triggers hives, then wear warm clothing, wrap a scarf and do not swim in cold water.
  5. Avoid sun exposure and wear sunblock
  6. If a specific medication is causing the hives, inform your doctor. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a dermatologist.
2630 people found this helpful

Popular Questions & Answers

I am suffering from vitiligo on both hands, fingers, on both foot and some on lips. Please advice me the best treatment. I have already taken medicine.

Dermatologist, Chennai
Don't worry. 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

Vitiligo treatable or not having white spots on hands So how to recover old skin. Is it possible? And how much time required for process.

MBBS, Diploma in Venerology & Dermatology (DVD)
Dermatologist, Delhi
Vitiligo is a continual skin problem and differs in the intensity and magnitude in each patient. An expert should be consulted before deciding on the treatment option. Although a complete cure for the condition is not possible the treatments can be opted for to minimize the visible effects of the skin condition. As in any illness or medical condition treating early will give pronounced results, vitiligo too, if treated early can be kept under control.

I am suffering from white patches around my neck so I had using ketofly soap weather its work or not either you may give the best soap.

MCh Plastic Surgery, MS - General Surgery
Cosmetic/Plastic Surgeon, Bangalore
Hello, Ketofly soap works only in fungal infections but treatment must also include oral tablets. Its better you consult a dermatologist.

सर मेरा age 29 साल हे. में 2 month से vitiligo से परेशान हुं. मेरे leg पर छोटे छोटे spot हे.अभी सुरुवात हे आप मेरी हेल्प करे

MCh Plastic Surgery, MS - General Surgery
Cosmetic/Plastic Surgeon, Bangalore
Hello, There are various medications for Vitiligo like corticosteroids, tacrolimus, proralen combined with light therapy. For stable vitiligo not responding to creams melanocyte transfer, skin grafting are good options. You can consult in private with photographs for more details.

I have white colour patches in both hand elbows and thighs, it does not looks like vitiligo. Suggest me doctor and treatment.

MCh Plastic Surgery, MS - General Surgery
Cosmetic/Plastic Surgeon, Bangalore
Hello, There are various medications for Vitiligo like corticosteroids, tacrolimus, proralen combined with light therapy. For stable vitiligo not responding to creams melanocyte transfer, skin grafting are good options. You can consult in private with photographs for more details.

Table of Content

What is Vitiligo?

Causes :

Symptoms :

Treatment :

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 - Symptoms And Treatment
Vitiligo is a long-term problem in which growing patches of skin lose their color. The patches appear when melanocytes within the skin die off.Treatment options may include exposure to UVA or UVB light and depigmentation of the skin in severe cases.
Play video
Vitiligo: Treatment Options To Get Rid Of It
Vitiligo is a disease that causes loss of skin color in blotches. It occurs when the cells that produce melanin die or stop functioning.The condition is not life-threatening or contagious. It can be stressful or make you feel bad about yourself. See your doctor if areas of your skin, hair or eyes lose coloring. Vitiligo has no cure. But treatment may help to stop or slow the discoloring process and return some color to your skin.
Play video
Vitiligo: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments
Here are Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments of Vitiligo.

Hi I am Dr. Sandesh Gupta the owner of skin and leisure center. Today we discuss the problem that is very common and which is very difficult to treat also which is something troublesome for the patients also that is Vitiligo.

So what is Vitiligo? Vitiligo is a pigmented disorder in which the pigment producing cells of the skin which is known as the Melanocytes are destroyed resulting in white patches all over the skin.

Now, what are the symptoms of Vitiligo? Vitiligo is usually noticeable white patches on the skin. These patches are more commonly found in the area where the body is exposed to the sun including the hands, feet, arms, face, and lips and these patches are usually symptomless. Vitiligo generally appears in one of three pattern-

First is the focal pattern, segmental pattern and the generalized pattern. In the focal pattern where the depigmentation limited to one or few areas.
In segmental pattern where the depigmentation develops on one side of the body.
The third is a generalized pattern. This is the most common pattern and in this depigmentation occurs symmetrically on both sides of the body.
Now, who are prone to Vitiligo? Although the course of Vitiligo is unpredictable but there are some certain factors also for the Vitiligo. Like chronic sun exposure, family history, diabetes mellitus, thyroid disease, frequent contacts with the chemicals like phenols and other chemicals. The application of strong bleaching agents also causes Vitiligo. Weak immune system, genetics, and hereditary diseases are also the common factors for Vitiligo.

Now, what are the treatments available for Vitiligo? Before starting the treatment the patient must understand the nature and the course of the disease which is very much unpredictable. A balanced nutritious diet with lots of vitamins and minerals are vital. Avoid distress, physical and the chemical damage and other common triggers. Without proper treatment from a dermatologist, it can spread very rapidly and can be very extensively. So it is better to start treatment as early as possible before spreading of the disease. It may have negative impact on the social life of the patient also. It may have negative impact on psychological life of patients. So we are expert in treating Vitiligo. At our center we have all types of therapies and all types of treatments available.

There are basically three types of treatments or therapies-

First is the medical therapy, second is the photo therapy, and third is the surgery. So in the medical therapy, just to stop the progression of the disease, this is given in the form of tablets or topical. And second is photo therapy, photo therapy is given in the form of UVA and UVB lights. It activates the pigment producing cells which is melanocytes, and helps to bring the color the color the black. Third type of therapy is surgery. In photo therapy Vitiligo surgery, usually it is done in the case of unstable Vitiligo. That is, if the area is not increasing its size and if it has been stopped last four to five months then only we can do the surgery. It is very effective on the patches of lips, hands, neck, or eyes, which is difficult to treat with the medical therapy.

There are three types of surgeries available-

Punch grafting which is very simple and economical procedure. The grafts are taken from the legs and it is put on the bigger areas but the thing is there that the cosmetic result is not as good as in case of other types of surgeries. Second is the blister grafting and third is the melanocyte transfer. In case of blister grafting, it is a very good type of grafting. This is meant for the smaller body surface areas. The results are very good and we never come to know that whether the patient has got surgery or not. The third type of surgery is the Melanocyte transfer technique. This is a highly specialized technique and good for the bigger areas and cosmetically having good results.

In case of further assistance or if you have any query please contact me through the Lybrate. We are always available for you. Thank you.

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