Common Specialities
{{speciality.keyWord}}
Common Issues
{{issue.keyWord}}
Common Treatments
{{treatment.keyWord}}

Overview

Last Updated: Mar 02, 2020
Change Language

Vitiligo - Symptom, Treatment And Causes

About Causes Symptoms Diagnose Types Treatment Side effects Post Treatment Guidelines Recovery Cost Cure Alternatives Spread Home Remedies

What is Vitiligo?

Vitiligo is a disease caused by the destruction of the skin’s melanocytes in certain areas of the body. Patients suffering from this disease are seen with small white spots on the skin 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.

Vitiligo is a dermatological condition that is characterized by white patches of skin on several parts of the body. The condition is caused due to the destruction of melanocytes which are the cells that are responsible for skin pigmentation. It may also be due to autoimmune thyroid disease.

The condition may be mild with one or two spots or may be severe with depigmentation in larger areas of skin. It is common in people with autoimmune disorders, is not contagious, and is not always progressive in the affected persons. Vitiligo is a long-term skin condition that cannot be cured.

What are the causes of Vitiligo?

Although the exact cause for this skin depigmentation malady is still unknown, 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 the 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.

What are the symptoms for Vitiligo?

  • White patches on the skin mostly on the foot, face, hands, lip and several places.
  • Sensitivity to sunlight
  • Emotional and psychological distress
  • Small white spots on navel, armpits, groin, genitals and near the rectal area

How to diagnose Vitiligo?

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.

  • Skin Biopsy: Small tissue of the affected area is taken and sent for biopsy to verify the problem.
  • Blood Test: Little amounts of blood is collected to perform lab tests for the final confirmation.

What are the various types of Vitiligo?

Vitiligo is classified into two types:

  • Segmental vitiligo: It is less common and more noticed in early age groups. This type of vitiligo is non-symmetrical. Non-segmental vitiligo occurs in 90 per cent of the affected persons and is symmetrical and are more common in areas that are regularly exposed to the sun.
  • Non-Segmental vitiligo: While non-segmental vitiligo may not respond to topical treatments, the more stable and less erratic segmental vitiligo responds quite well to topical treatments.

What is the best treatment for vitiligo?

There a number of treatments available to restore the colour of the skin. But the results vary under different situations and sometimes are unpredictable. Some of the treatments can have various side effects and if your doctor has prescribed you any drug, surgery or therapy then the process takes months to show its effectiveness.

Sometimes if the treatment is successful then also the patches can come back or new patches may reappear. There are no medications that can treat vitiligo or bring back the pigment cells called melanocytes. But the skin tone can be restored by using some of the creams or by doing light therapy.

Skin tone restoration

  • Cream controlling inflammation:

    To bring back colour in the skin tone corticosteroid cream can be applied but in the starting of the disease. This process takes time and there may not be any change in the skin colour for several months. There can be a side effect on the skin like skin thinning or appearance of lines.

  • Medicines affecting the immune system:

    Cream or ointment which contains tacrolimus or pimecrolimus may be effective for the small area patches like and especially for face and neck.

Therapies

  • Light and psoralen combination:

    This is the treatment which combines substances derived from a plant known psoralen with light therapy which returns colours to the patches. After taking psoralen by applying it to the skin or by taking it by mouth you are exposed to the ultraviolet rays (UVA or UVB), thus giving better results to the medicine.

  • Depigmentation

    If vitiligo is widespread then this treatment is useful. An agent for depigmentation is applied to the pigmented area of the skin which then gradually brightens and blends with the skin. This is done for 9 months and should be repeated once or twice in this time period. There can be side effects like swelling, itching, irritation, redness, and dry skin.

Surgery

  • Skin Grafting

    A small section of normal skin is taken out by the doctor and then it is attached to the skin which has lost the pigmentation. This procedure is done when there are small patches of vitiligo.

  • Blister grafting

    In this process blisters are created by the doctor on your skin by the suction process then the top of the blisters are removed and they are transplanted to the discoloured skin.

Who would need a vitiligo treatment?

Anyone who has been diagnosed with the condition can undergo treatment for vitiligo. Vitiligo is a continual skin problem and differs in the intensity and magnitude of 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. Especially children and young adults should be given treatment on a diagnosis of the condition.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

Vitiligo is likely to affect 1 per cent of the global population, and the condition may run in families. While the topical treatments and phototherapy can be offered to adults and young adults of all gender, the surgical options must be thought about before undergoing the treatment.

The surgeon will assess the patient’s conditions before suggesting the surgical treatment of vitiligo. The surgical treatment is not a good option for children and for those who can scar easily.

For children, topical treatments can safely be opted for after a consultation with a dermatologist. Phototherapy with UVA radiation can be administered to a child of over 12 years of age. However, the risks and benefits are carefully weighed before going for the treatment.

What are the side effects of vitiligo treatment?

Different side effects have been reported with different treatment options. In the case of topical corticosteroids and other topical creams, a possible serious side effect is skin atrophy. The skin becomes very thin, dry, and fragile and hence, the usage of topical creams has to be discontinued after the prescribed period.

Also, the patients need to be regularly monitored by the medical practitioner. The oral medication, psoralen that increases the skin sensitivity to UV radiation may affect the eyes. Hence, eye examinations before and after the treatment are essential. Possible side effects of surgical treatment include cobble-stone like skin and infection.

What care is necessary after vitiligo treatment?

In general, anyone with vitiligo must avoid being in the hot sun. Wearing protective clothing and use of high-factor sunscreen will be of help. Avoid getting skin injury as white patches tend to increase in the injured area.

Other than these, there are no specific measures to be taken care of post any treatment for vitiligo. However, regular monitoring of Autoimmune conditions and thyroid function is necessary. Also, care is to be taken in the case of psychological depression.

How long does it take to recover?

Vitiligo is not completely curable, and treatments can only minimize the visible white patches and improve the skin conditions. Hence, continual monitoring is required, and the treatments are to repeated according to the advice of a dermatologist.

What is the price of the vitiligo treatment in India?

While the cost of topical treatments would be quite minimal, a phototherapy treatment may cost between Rs. 2000 to Rs. 5000. Surgical procedures may be a little expensive and can vary between Rs. 20000 to Rs. 40000 for treatment of white patches on the patient’s hands.

Is Vitiligo curable or not?

Vitiligo is a disease which can affect the people of any group and it is said that there is no cure for this disease and is a lifetime condition. Vitiligo is most of the times genetic and the exact cause of the disease is unknown it an autoimmune disorder or caused by a virus, but there are treatment options available for this disease. Vitiligo or small white spots on the skin can be identified when there is a loss of colour tissues from the body.

What are the alternatives to vitiligo treatment?

Certain alternative therapies are available apart from conventional medicine. Homoeopathy and Ayurveda promise relief from the condition, however, it may take considerable time to notice visible results.

Can you stop the spread of vitiligo?

This is the biggest concern of the people suffering from Vitiligo that how it can be stopped from spreading. Vitiligo is a disorder that is seen in the due course of time and is a visible disease.

Vitiligo can also spread in hair and vitiligo affected area in the hair turns white in colour. Vitiligo can be hereditary and sometimes it runs in families and this may suggest that genetics also play a major role in this.

These are some of the methods which help vitiligo from stop spreading:

  • Stress and depression can spread vitiligo
  • Milk products or eating non-veg with milk products are responsible for the spreading of vitiligo.
  • Vitiligo can be triggered by the intake of the citrus item in a large amount
  • Deficiency of vitamin B12 another reason for spreading of vitiligo
  • Going swimming in the pool which has chlorinated water can affect vitiligo

What are the home remedies for vitiligo?

There can be a certain condition of nutrients which are lacking in the body of a human are the cause of vitiligo. But there is no evidence found that by eating some of the food products can stop or improve vitiligo.

People try to do some treatment of vitiligo at home, but no evidence found that it can be cured or not:

  • Gingko Biloba paste
  • Turmeric and mustard oil mixture
  • Lemon and sweet basil extract mixture

Though there is no prescribed diet for vitiligo these things can be eaten for prevention:

  • Fruit- banana, apple
  • Leafy green vegetables like kale or romaine lettuce
  • Chickpeas
  • Root vegetables like beetroots, carrots or radishes
  • Figs and dates

Key Highlights:

  • Safety: Medium
  • Effectiveness: Medium
  • Timeliness: Medium
  • Relative Risk: High
  • Side Effects: High
  • Recovery Time: High
  • Price Range: RS. 2000 - Rs. 40,000
  • Recovery Time: High
  • Price Range: RS. 2000 - Rs. 40,000

Popular Questions & Answers

I am sanjay biswas. I am 48 years old and I have vitiligo. I was using nuzarine and diprovate lotion but it is not cured.

Dermatologist, Jaipur
Need to run few investigations and add oral medication for better treatment. please send in a personal query. Hope that helps.

I am taking levamisole 150 mg tab twice in a week to controlling vitiligo. Doctor told I have to take it 6_8 months .i want to know seder effects of this tablet.

MBBS, MD - Dermatology , Venereology & Leprosy
Dermatologist, Gurgaon
Levamisole is used for its immunomodulatory effect in vitiligo. But it alone is not very effective. It was used as an antihelmenthic drug initially. It is safe.

Sir I am danish from mumbai sir mujhe vitiligo hai leucoderma mera ek friend ye cosvate gm cream jo vitiligo ke liye hota hai to kya me isr use kar sakta hu iska kaise use karna hai or kab lagana hai sir please help me.

MBBS, MS - General Surgery, MCh - Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Fellowship In Advanced Cosmetic Surgery
Cosmetic/Plastic Surgeon, Thane
Cosvate gm can be used but please consult specialist before you start using it as everybody has different skin type and type of vitiligo. So treatment should be started accordingly to get better result.

My wife suffering vitiligo from last 25 years .she is 42 years lod. Hole body 35 % cover of vitiligo .various tret given but not full effect.

MD - Dermatology, Fage, MBBS
Dermatologist, Delhi
Vitiligo is a chronic (meaning slowly increasing or decreasing course) disease. It is very frustrating for both the patient and family. But the important point to note is, it improves also. There are phases in which it improves or degrades. Please...
1 person found this helpful

Popular Health Tips

Vitiligo - What Causes It and How Can It Be Treated?

MD - Dermatology, MBBS, DNB (Dermatology)
Dermatologist, Pune
Vitiligo - What Causes It and How Can It Be Treated?
Vitiligo is a skin condition that causes loss of pigmentation of the skin. Melanocytes, the pigment cells, within the skin are destroyed. This causes these parts of the skin to lose color and turn pale. It might affect different parts of the body ...
5224 people found this helpful

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 cel...
4031 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...
4148 people found this helpful

Skin Pigmentation - Things You Must Know About It!

MD, MBBS
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 prese...
12 people found this helpful

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 ...
2986 people found this helpful
Content Details
Written By
MS - General Surgery,M. Ch. (Plastic Surgery),MBBS Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery
Cosmetic/Plastic Surgery
Play video
Vitiligo
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...
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 m...
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 th...
Play video
Vitiligo - What Should You Know?
Hello, I am Dr. Nishant Mishra, I am Ayurvedic physician. Today I am going to talk about vitiligo. Which you know as safed daag. Vitiligo have major effect on quality of life of patient. Aaiye hum jante hai modern aur ayurvedic perspective se , vi...
Play video
Know More About Vitiligo
Namaskar! Main Dr. Smita Priyadarshni, Priyadarshni Skin Clinic, Dilshad Garden, Delhi se hun. Me aaj vitiligo ke bar me aapse bat krungi. India me ye bimari 2-4% logon ko hoti hai. Jyadatar ye bimari 10-30 saal ke bich me dekhi jati hai. But ye b...
Having issues? Consult a doctor for medical advice