Vitiligo is a disease that causes loss of skin color in patches. The discolored areas usually get bigger with time. The condition can affect the skin on any part of the body. It can also affect the hair and the inside of the mouth.
Normally, the color of hair and skin is determined by melanin. Vitiligo occurs when cells that produce melanin die or stop functioning.
Vitiligo affects people of all skin types, but it may be more noticeable in people with darker skin.
The condition can be stressful or make you feel bad about yourself.
Symptoms Of Vitiligo
- Patchy loss of skin color, which usually first appears on the hands, face, and areas around body openings and the genitals
- Premature whitening or graying of the hair on your scalp, eyelashes, eyebrows or beard
- Loss of color in the tissues that line the inside of your mouth and nose (mucous membranes)
- Vitiligo can start at any age but usually appears before age 30.
Depending on the type of vitiligo, it may affect:
- Nearly all skin surfaces. With this type, called universal vitiligo, the discoloration affects nearly all skin surfaces.
- Many parts of your body. With this most common type, called generalized vitiligo, the discolored patches often progress similarly on corresponding body parts (symmetrically).
- Only one side or part of your body. This type, called segmental vitiligo, tends to occur at a younger age, progress for a year or two, then stop.
- One of only a few areas of your body. This type is called localized (focal) vitiligo.
- The face and hands. With this type, called acrofacial vitiligo, the affected skin is on the face and hands, and around body openings, such as the eyes, nose, and ears.
It’s difficult to predict how the disease will progress. In most cases, pigment loss spreads and eventually involves most of the skin.
Complications Of Vitiligo
People with vitiligo may be at increased risk of:
- Social or psychological distress
- Eye problems
- Hearing loss
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