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Vitiligo is a disease where the immune system turns against itself (autoimmune disease) where immune cells of the body attack the color-producing (pigment-producing) cells to cause white patches on the skin, which may contain hairs that are white in color. It may be seen with other autoimmune diseases, such as thyroid disease, alopecia areata, diabetes mellitus, Addison disease, and myasthenia gravis. The way that vitiligo progresses varies greatly; it may remain in the area where it started (localized) or it may become more widespread.


Vitiligo may occur at all ages but usually begins between the ages of 2 and 40. All races may be affected. Despite a common belief, vitiligo is not seen more often in individuals of African descent; this may seem to be true only because the condition causes a more obvious cosmetic problem for darker-skinned individuals.

Vitiligo most commonly affects areas of injury (trauma), particularly on the face, upper chest, hands, armpit, and groin. It may be widespread, affecting both sides of the body (generalized); it may affect only one side of the body (segmental); or it may affect only one localized area (focal).

  • Sharply defined white patches are seen. If the affected area contains hair, the hair may turn white.
  • Sometimes halo nevi may be seen, in which a mole is surrounded by a circular white patch, resembling a halo.

It is not necessary to treat vitiligo, but many patients find it bothersome and cosmetically undesired. Please come and see us if it becomes bothersome or if cosmetic treatments are desired.