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Vitiligo is an autoimmune disease that causes areas of skin to lose color (depigmentation), resulting in spots and irregular patches of lighter skin—whether a few spots or widespread color loss. People of any skin color can develop vitiligo.

If you have vitiligo, your immune system attacks cells in your body called melanocytes, those cells that make pigment. If the body continues to attack melanocytes, the patches will grow, and new spots and patches can appear in other areas.

There are several types of vitiligo. The most common, non-segmental vitiligo, tends to spread slowly with new patches developing off and on throughout a person’s life. Patches tend to appear on both sides of the body like both knees or both hands. Segmental vitiligo is rapid color loss on one side of the body. With localized vitiligo, you develop a few spots or patches that appear in one or a few places on your body. When it causes scattered patches of color loss in different areas of the body, it’s generalized vitiligo. While rare, you lose most of your skin color with universal vitiligo.

What Causes Vitiligo?

Vitiligo is a skin condition that occurs when the cells responsible for producing skin pigment, called melanocytes, die and stop producing melanin. The exact cause of this chronic condition is largely unknown, although it is believed to be related to an immune system disorder that attacks the melanocytes in the skin. Some people also believe that vitiligo can be hereditary and triggered by events such as stress, severe sunburn, or skin trauma. Those with vitiligo may experience increased risks of social or psychological stress, sunburn, eye problems, and hearing loss.

Vitiligo Symptoms

The main symptom of vitiligo is the appearance of light-colored or white patches on any part of the body, including around the eyes. These patches may also be accompanied by the presence of lumps and bumps. Initially, small white spots may appear on areas of the body that are frequently exposed to the sun, such as the face, arms, or legs. Other common signs of vitiligo include patchy loss of skin color, changes or loss of color in the retina, premature whitening or graying of the hair, and color loss in mucous membranes.

  • Patchy loss of skin color
  • Change or loss of color in the retina
  • Premature whitening or graying of the hair
  • Color loss in mucous membranes

Types Of Vitiligo

Vitiligo is typically categorized into two types: segmental and nonsegmental. Within these types, there are three subtypes: localized, generalized, and universal. It is difficult to predict how the condition will progress over time, but a dermatologist can help determine the specific type of vitiligo a patient has. The type and frequency of treatment will depend on the type of vitiligo. To learn more, it is recommended to schedule an appointment with a dermatologist.

Segmental Vitiligo

Segmental vitiligo, also known as unilateral vitiligo, usually develops during childhood or adolescence and progresses for a few years before stabilizing. This type of vitiligo appears in one area or segment of the body, such as one leg or one arm. In some cases, segmental vitiligo is accompanied by changes in the color of the eyebrows, hair, or eyelashes

Nonsegmental Vitiligo

Nonsegmental vitiligo, on the other hand, is the most common type and results in white patches appearing on both sides of the body. These patches typically start near the hands, eyes, mouth, or areas of the body that experience frequent rubbing. The color loss may start in patches but becomes more noticeable over time.

Vitiligo Subtypes

Dermatologists use subtypes to assess the extent and severity of pigment loss on a patient’s body. Localized vitiligo occurs when one or two patches appear on limited areas of the body, while generalized vitiligo is characterized by scattered patches throughout the body. The rarest subtype is universal vitiligo, which means that most of the pigment is lost.

The Treatment

While there is currently no cure for vitiligo, there are various treatments available to help even out skin tone and restore color. The effectiveness of these treatments varies from person to person and depends on the individual’s specific condition. Treatment plans can consist of a single treatment or multiple treatments, and may need to be adjusted over time based on the type and severity of the condition. Medications, such as anti-inflammatory creams and immune system-modifying drugs, may be prescribed. Therapies like psoralen, light therapy, and depigmentation can also be used. In cases where therapy is not as effective, surgical options such as skin grafting, blister grafting, and micro-pigmentation may be considered alongside therapy to achieve desired results. To discuss the most suitable treatment for an individual, it is recommended to contact The Art of SKin  Dermatology 

The Art of Skin Dermatology can offer vitiligo treatment that may help restore lost skin color:

Vitiligo is a chronic skin condition characterized by the gradual loss of the skin’s natural pigment, causing it to discolor in blotches. This skin pigmentation disorder causes the skin to produce less melanin, which is the pigment responsible for skin, eye, and hair color. The location, rate of spread, and the onset of depigmentation are unpredictable. Unfortunately, there is no cure for vitiligo. Patients with vitiligo can lose pigment on any part of the body, hair, and inside of the mouth. Vitiligo can affect patients of all skin types, but it is more noticeable on darker skin.

Although there is no cure and no health risks associated with vitiligo — aside from the occasional itching — there are several treatment options available to help patients boost their confidence and self-esteem. At The Art of Skin Dermatology & Skin Surgery, our dermatology providers work with you to determine the best course of treatment, keeping in mind your unique skin-related concerns and end goals.

Contact us to schedule a consultation to discuss vitiligo treatments or to learn more about the other skin conditions we treat.

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Melasma, also known as chloasma, is a condition that causes uneven skin coloration. It occurs when there is an excess of skin pigmentation due to the overproduction of melanin by melanocytes, the cells responsible for producing melanin.

There are several factors that can contribute to the development of melasma, including exposure to ultraviolet light, genetic predisposition, and hormonal imbalances. Interestingly, the blue light emitted from LED screens, such as those found on cell phones, televisions, and laptops, can also play a role in the formation of melasma.

Melasma tends to appear on areas of the skin that are frequently exposed to the sun, such as the forehead, nose, cheeks, upper lip, chin, neck, arms, and back.

Chemical Peels

A chemical peel involves the application of a customized chemical solution to the skin to prompt a gradual peel of the treatment area. Once the treated skin has peeled away, new, smoother skin is revealed to restore a more youthful complexion.

Chemical peels are most often performed on the face. Skin on the backs of the hands, the chest, and the neck can also be rejuvenated with chemical peels.

We use an assortment of peels to address several chronic skin conditions. Melasma, hyperpigmentation, acne scars, sun damage, and fine lines and wrinkles can all be improved with chemical peel treatments.

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