The main sign of vitiligo is patchy loss of skin color. Usually, the discoloration first shows on sun-exposed areas, such as the hands, feet, arms, face and lips.
Vitiligo signs include:
Patchy loss of skin color
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)
Loss of or change in color of the inner layer of the eyeball (retina)
The exact causes of vitiligo are unclear. A number of factors may contribute.
an autoimmune disorder, in which the immune system becomes overactive and destroys the melanocytes
a genetic oxidative stress imbalance
a stressful event
harm to the skin due to a critical sunburn or cut
exposure to some chemicals
a neural cause
heredity, as it may run in families
Vitiligo is not contagious. One person cannot catch it from another.
Many treatments are available to help restore skin color or even out skin tone. Results vary and are unpredictable. Some treatments have serious side effects. So your doctor may suggest that you first try improving the appearance of your skin by applying self-tanning products or makeup.
No drug can stop the process of vitiligo — the loss of pigment cells (melanocytes). But some drugs, used alone or with light therapy, can help restore some skin tone.
Creams that control inflammation. Applying a corticosteroid cream to affected skin may help return color, particularly if you start using it early in the disease. You may not see a change in your skin's color for several months.
Surgery may be an option for you if light therapy doesn't work. Surgery can also be used with those therapies. The goal of the following techniques is to even out your skin tone by restoring color.
Skin grafting. In this procedure, your doctor removes very small sections of your normal, pigmented skin and attaches them to areas that have lost pigment. This procedure is sometimes used if you have small patches of vitiligo.