What Causes Vitiligo?
The specific cause of vitiligo is unknown. However, research suggests that it can stem from genetic factors, disorders of the immune system, or skin trauma. This can include severe burns or contact with a harsh chemical.
Nonsegmental vitiligo is the most common type of vitiligo, accounting for 80 percent of cases. Here, there are symmetrical spots on both sides of the skin. For example: If there is a spot on one cheek, there is often a matching spot on the other.
This type of vitiligo can have different patterns and show up in various parts of the body, such as the hands and feet (acrofacial vitiligo), lips and fingertips (lip-tip vitiligo), or large portions of the back and chest (generalized vitiligo). There’s also universal vitiligo (the pattern covering 80 percent of the body) and inflammatory vitiligo (wherein an itchy, pink border forms around the white spot).
Meanwhile, doctors refer to vitiligo that appears after a skin injury (scratch, scrape, burn, or cut) as the Koebner Phenomenon.
A second type is segmental vitiligo, which appears on one side of the body without crossing the middle. This spreads faster than nonsegmental vitiligo and starts to cover the body within six months to a year. Segmental vitiligo doesn’t respond well to usual forms of vitiligo treatment unless they start very early. However, it is very responsive to surgical melanocyte-keratinocyte transplant.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
Vitiligo can start at any age, though it usually shows up before a person reaches the age of 30. Symptoms of vitiligo include:
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