Vitiligo (vit-ih-LIE-go) is a disease that causes the loss of skin color in blotches. The extent and rate of color loss from vitiligo is unpredictable. It can affect the skin on any part of your body. It may also affect hair, the inside of the mouth and even the eyes.
Normally, the color of hair, skin and eyes is determined by melanin. Vitiligo occurs when the 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 is not life-threatening or contagious. It can be stressful or make you feel bad about yourself. Treatment for vitiligo may improve the appearance of the affected skin but does not cure the disease.
Vitiligo seems to occur when immune cells destroy the cells that make brown pigment (melanocytes). This destruction is thought to be due to an autoimmune problem. But, the exact cause of vitiligo is unknown.Vitiligo may appear at any age. There is an increased rate of the condition in some families. Vitiligo is associated with other autoimmune diseases: Addison disease, thyroid disease, pernicious anemia, diabetes.
Vitiligo also occurs when melanin-forming cells (melanocytes) die or stop producing melanin — the pigment that gives your skin, hair and eyes color. The involved patches of skin become lighter or white. Doctors don't know why the cells fail or die. It may be related to: A disorder in which your immune system attacks and destroys the melanocytes in the skin.
It may also caused by the family history (heredity), or a trigger event, such as sunburn, stress or exposure to industrial chemicals.