Vitiligo and Who It Affects
Approximately 40 to 50 million people in the United States have a pigmentation disorder known as vitiligo, and who it affects includes all races and both sexes equally. The condition appears to be more common in people with certain autoimmune diseases, such as hyperthyroidism and adrenal insufficiency. Vitiligo may also be hereditary and affect the children of parents who have the disease.
About 1 to 2 percent of the world's population, or 40 to 50 million people, have vitiligo. In the United States, 2 to 5 million people have the disorder. Ninety-five percent of people living with vitiligo develop it before their 40th birthday. The disorder affects all races and both sexes equally.
Vitiligo seems to be more common in people with certain autoimmune diseases (diseases in which a person's immune system reacts against the body's own organs or tissues). These autoimmune diseases include:
- Hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid gland)
- Adrenal insufficiency, including Addison's disease
- Alopecia areata (patches of baldness)
- Pernicious anemia (a low level of red blood cells caused by failure of the body to absorb vitamin B12).
Scientists do not know the reason for the association between vitiligo and these autoimmune diseases. However, most people with vitiligo have no other autoimmune disease.
Vitiligo may also be hereditary, meaning that children whose parents have the disorder are more likely to develop the condition. However, most children will not get vitiligo even if a parent has it, and most people with vitiligo do not have a family history of the disorder.