Vitiligo: White patches on skin

What is Vitiligo? Vitiligo (vit-ill-eye-go) is a pigmentation disorder in which white patches appear on the skin on different parts of the body and the hair in the affected area may turn white. (NIAMS- National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and skin disease)

Vitiligo symptoms are

  • Appearances of white spots or patches on skin.
  • Generally the primary white patch develops on those body parts that are exposed to sun rays.
  • Varying hair color.
  • Effects of loss of pigmentary cells on the mucous membrane.
  • Vitiligo effect on Retina of the eye.


The major cause of vitiligo is the loss of pigment producing cells in skin. Our body contains melanocytes cells, special cells that produce melanin. Melanins are in yellow, brown, dark brown pigment that determines skin color. These melanin cells further produce pigment cells in skin. These pigments are the coloring matter in the cells & tissues of body. If due to any disorder, melanocytes cells fails to produce pigment cells then we term it as depigmentation in skin. Due to this depigmentation, skin shows white spots or patches. The other causes related to depigmentation are given below

1) Heredity
Almost 10 to 20 % people found in vitiligo, because of getting an autosomal dominant gene, with irregular pattern from their parents.

2) Stress
Vitiligo can be appeared by mental disturbance, or taking hyper level of stress, tension, anxiety etc.

3) Dietary Insufficiency
Lacking of nutritional factors in body may leads to vitiligo.

4) Old physical injury
Mostly in children’s old physical injury like, cuts can modify the skin coloration.

5) Sun exposure
Due to the less sensitivity in skin to face sun light, many people indulge in this disease, if they face a sun ray that damages the skin cells & tissues and pigmentary cells.

Physicians easily diagnose the vitiligo disease, because of the appearances of white patches on skin.

Affected People from vitiligo
40 to 50 million people in world wide, with the 1-2 percentage of the world, is suffering from the disease.

Vitiligo & hair
The condition changes the hairs color, due to the loss of melanocytes from the basal follicular epithelium over the hair papillae.

Distribution of vitiligo patches on body
Earlier the size of appearance of white patches is small, but after some time it can spreads on all body parts.

Vitiligo Classification

  1. Localized:
    • Focal: One or more depigmented macules or patches in a single area.
    • Segmental: The appearances of vitiligo white patches on specific body parts, not on whole body. Children’s are mostly affected from segmental vitiligo
    • Mucosal: Mucous membrane, whose function is to protect or separate cells or organs from each other, is alone affected from mucosal vitiligo type.
  1. Generalized:
    • Acrofascial: Appearances of vitiligo patches on face, hand, feet, on hair, and not on the center of body
    • Vulgaris: Scattered patches or macules in symmetrical, classic pattern.
    • Mixed: Combination of two or more types of vitiligo.
    • Universal: by naturally, a person is suffering from Vitiligo.
  1. Trichrome Vitiligo: Pigment determines the skin color, appearances of patches or spots appear in different pigmentary colors, like brownish, whitish, and yellowish are term as Trichrome Vitiligo.
  1. Quadrichrome Vitiligo:  Appearances of white patches in dark brown color, or hyper pigmentatio

The Cure
 According to the American vitiligo Research Foundation, (AVRF) vitiligo is incurable disease. The purpose of the treatments is to just try to re-produce pigmentary cells in skin, or balance the skin tone.

Vitiligo is incurable disease, but yet due to revolutionary changes in medical science, numbers of treatments are revealed like:
  • Psychotherapy (to give awareness about the disease, and its treatments, best for patient and his
  • Ayurvedic Treatment (importance on taking food along with medicines)
  • Photochemotherapy (Treatment conducted through UVA or UVB bulb rays)
  • Homeopathic Treatment (by using  natural herbs)
  • Transplantation (transformation of pigment producing cells from one body part to another body part.)