ABC Medical Center > Vitiligo

What is Vitiligo?

21:56 - 4 May , 2021


It is a skin condition characterized by the appearance of white depigmented spots as a result of an alteration of the melanin-producing cells (the pigment that gives color to the skin, hair, and eyes), which do not fulfill their function partially or totally.

These spots can usually appear anywhere on the body, becoming larger over time.

About 100 million people in the world are considered to have vitiligo, and although it can affect all races and both sexes equally, research indicates that dark-skinned women between the ages of 12 and 32 are at higher risk of suffering from it.

So far the cause of this condition is unknown, but some doctors associate it with a dysfunction of the immune system that damages the pigment cells of the body, the presence of other pathologies (anemia, diabetes, Addison’s disease, thyroid conditions), genetics, or skin lesions.

Although it is not a serious or contagious disease, those affected tend to see their self-esteem diminished because their appearance could be considered unsightly by some people, causing them insecurity and shame.

Due to its placement in the body and degree of affectation, vitiligo is classified as:

  • Limited: when one or a few small isolated spots appear.
  • Segmented: there is a chain of spots with a distribution pattern.
  • Generalized: it is the most frequent type. Numerous spots affect various parts of the skin with different intensities.
  • Acrofacial: appears on the face and hands.
  • Universal: affects almost the entire skin surface.

The most common areas of the body where spots appear are:

  • Armpits and groin.
  • Face (eyes, nose, and mouth).
  • Abdomen.
  • Genitals.
  • Glutes and rectal area.

Signs and symptoms Vitiligo

They are characterized by:

  • Appearance of depigmented spots that usually start on the hands and continue towards the face and genitals.
  • White or gray hair, beard, mustache, eyelashes, and eyebrows.
  • Lack of color in the mucous membranes.

Diagnosis and treatment Vitiligo

Diagnosis begins with a review of your medical history and a physical examination of your skin with a specialized lamp. And if required, they may request a blood test and a skin biopsy to rule out the presence of autoimmune diseases.

The treatment to follow will depend on the age, the affected areas, the size, and the progress of the disease.

Currently, there are drugs and phototherapy to try to restore skin tone, but the results are irregular and temporary, and in some cases, there can be serious side effects and the condition usually returns.

If these treatments don’t work, you could be a candidate for a surgical procedure in which pigmented skin is grafted or a healthy cell transplant is performed, but a possible recurrence is not ruled out either. Your doctor will explain the benefits and risks of surgery and whether it may be appropriate for you.

General recommendations:

  • Keep your skin clean and hydrated.
  • Decrease your stress levels since it is considered one of the possible causes of the appearance of vitiligo.
  • Do not expose yourself to the sun, and if you do, always use sunscreen to protect the affected areas and pigmented skin, since you will only accentuate the contrast when you tan.

At ABC Medical Center’s Internal Medicine Department, we offer health care services with the highest quality and safety, from the prevention, diagnosis, timely treatment, and monitoring of infectious, respiratory, endocrinological, dermatological, rheumatic, nephrological, gastrointestinal, and hematological pathologies of both chronic-degenerative diseases and acute conditions, through a comprehensive and multidisciplinary model.


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  • Guerrero OG, Trejo OX, Peralta PML, et al. Pathogenesis of vitiligo. Autoimmune theory. Rev Cent Dermatol Pascua. 2020;29(2-3):61-76. doi:10.35366/99918. 
  • Fernández PD, Valdés EJ, Valverde MP. Generalidades del vitiligo. Revista Médica Sinergia. 2020;5(08):1-13.
  • Roldán FMS, Ruano R, Acevedo L. Actinomicetoma abdominal en paciente con vitiligo segmentario: un reporte de caso. Dermatología Cosmética, Médica y Quirúrgica. 2019;17(1):36-38.
  • Simón BTI, Suárez BLC, Marishal FMA. Asociación entre anemia hemolítica, colitis ulcerosa y vitiligo. MediSan. 2016;20(11):5134-5140.

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