A skin condition that affects pigmentation, vitiligo occurs when white patches develop anywhere on the skin. With vitiligo, melanocytes, the pigment-forming cells, are destroyed by the immune system, which makes skin loses its pigmentation. Usually, people develop vitiligo between the ages of 10 and 40, with the condition affecting both men and women.
When melanin, the dark pigment in the epidermis that gives your skin its normal color, is damaged, missing or not produced, the involved patch of skin stays white. If vitiligo occurs in more than one location, white patches develop in these areas as well. Exactly why vitiligo develops is unclear, but it appears to have a hereditary component and may have something to do with the immune system.
The usual sign of vitiligo is areas without pigment that appear as white patches on the skin. Vitiligo can appear anywhere on the body, but it usually develops first on areas of the body that are exposed to the sun.
Although no known prevention or cure exists for vitiligo, certain treatments can even out the skin’s tone and appearance including ointments, topical steroids and ultraviolet light therapy. Self-care may involve sunscreen use and the application of cosmetic camouflage cream.