It is a type of skin disorder in which there is a loss of skin pigment or color which leads to white patches all over the body.
The exact reason what causes vitiligo to develop is still unknown but research shows that certain factors like autoimmune disorder, stressful event, harm to skin due to sunburn or cut, exposure to certain chemicals or a viral cause may be involved.
Melanocytes are the cells located deep within the epidermis and are responsible for producing melanin which gives gives skin its color and helps protect it from the sun. Vitiligo develops when these skin cells suddenly stop producing melanin. Initially the effected skin gets lighter in color but eventually it spreads to cover a much larger area producing depigmented spots. It can effect any part of the body.
It is impossible to predict how much of the skin can be affected. In the majority of cases, the affected areas remain affected for the rest of the person’s life.
- Vitiligo results in depigmented, or white, patches of skin in any location on the body.
- Vitiligo can be focal and localized to one area, or it may affect several different areas on the body.
- Although kids of all races are affected equally, spots tend to be more visible on those with darker skin.
Sometimes kids with vitiligo have other symptoms, such as premature graying of the hair or a loss of pigment on the lips, since pigment cells are found in these places, too.
Diagnosis is usually made by careful history and physical examination.