What is vitiligo?
Vitiligo (vit-uh-lie-go) causes the skin to lose its natural color. Patches of lighter skin appear. Some people develop a few patches. Others lose much more skin color.
This skin disease often forms on both sides of the body as shown here on the knees.
Vitiligo can also affect other parts of your body. A section of hair can turn white. Some people lose color inside their mouths. Even an eye can lose some of its color.
What causes this color loss is still a mystery. We do know that vitiligo is not contagious. It is not life-threatening.
But vitiligo can be life-altering. Some people develop low self-esteem. They may no longer want to hang out with friends. They can develop serious depression. Most people have vitiligo for life, so it’s important to develop coping strategies.
A coping strategy that helps many people is to learn about vitiligo. Another helpful strategy is to connect with others who have vitiligo.
Related AAD resources
Image used with permission of the American Academy of Dermatology National Library of Dermatologic Teaching Slides.
Gawkrodger DJ, Ormerod AD, Shaw L et al. Guideline for the diagnosis and management of vitiligo. Br J Dermatol 2008; 159: 1051-76.
Nicolaidou E, Antoniou C, Stratigos A et al. Narrowband ultraviolet B phototherapy and 308-nm excimer laser in the treatment of vitiligo: a review. J Am Acad Dermatol 2009; 60: 470-7.
Whitton ME, Ashcroft DM, Gonzalez U. Therapeutic interventions for vitiligo. J Am Acad Dermatol 2008; 59: 713-7.