Start with key facts
When you’re living with vitiligo, or caring for someone who is, the information out there can leave you feeling a bit confused. But we’ve got you covered. Learning about vitiligo is an ongoing journey as new information becomes available, but getting started with the basics can help you feel more confident in understanding the condition.
You might be wondering, “what causes vitiligo?”
Vitiligo is believed to be an autoimmune condition where a person’s own immune system attacks their body’s melanocytes (the cells responsible for our skin and hair color). When the melanocytes are destroyed, the pigment (color) in certain areas of the skin begins to disappear. Other potential factors might include having other autoimmune conditions or a family history of vitiligo. Sometimes, vitiligo may also be triggered by external events like physical or emotional stress.
It was a scary moment for me when he was first diagnosed. All sorts of things came to mind, like how will this affect not only his appearance but also his health?”
The physical signs of vitiligo
You may already know that the primary symptom of vitiligo is the white spots that appear on the skin. This is called depigmentation. When you have vitiligo, melanocytes (the cells that produce pigment that give your skin its color) are destroyed. This results in depigmentation, or a loss of pigment on your skin.
Depigmentation can appear on any part of the body, including:
- Skin: usually on the hands, feet, arms, torso, and face
- Hair: scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes, and facial hair
- Inside of the mouth or nose
Talking to a healthcare provider or even a loved one about how the physical symptoms make you feel may help you feel less alone in your journey.