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Vitiligo is a skin disease that is characterized by the appearance of depigmented or white areas, whose size increases with time. In general, the disease begins to appear before the age of 20. This pigmentation is due to the disappearance of melanocytes, the cells responsible for skin pigmentation. In advanced stages, nails, hair or hair can also be affected. The causes of the disease are not yet precisely known, but several hypotheses can be put forward such as an autoimmune origin of the disease, or genetic or environmental causes. Vitiligo particularly affects the face, lips, hands and feet.


Symptoms of vitiligo include:
  • depigmentation of the skin limited to a small area;
  • a generalized depigmentation: vitiligo vulgaris;
  • premature whitening of hair; eyebrows, beard and other body hair.


The diagnosis of vitiligo is easy and is made before the presence of skin depigmentation. A Wood's lamp used in a dark room allows a more precise study of the skin: in the case of vitiligo, the skin is very white, without pigmentation. In addition, this lamp can detect other areas affected by vitiligo but that keep their normal color under ordinary light.


Treatments that exist against vitiligo correct the effects of the disease, but don't cure it. Depending on developments, some areas may be re-pigmented. When the contrast is not strong between the depigmented area and the natural color of the skin, solar exposure, a chemical, laser repigmentation, or more rarely, melanocyte transplants can fix the problem. Psychological support is very important given the sometimes unsightly appearance of the disease.