A vitiligo diagnosis is typically made after a thorough medical history is gathered and a physical exam and certain tests are conducted. After looking for symptoms of vitiligo or other conditions, the doctor may take a small sample of the affected skin to confirm a vitiligo diagnosis. The doctor may also take a blood sample to check the blood cell count and thyroid function.
In order to make a vitiligo diagnosis, the doctor will typically:
- Ask questions about a person's medical history
- Perform a physical exam, looking for any signs of vitiligo or other conditions
- Order certain tests.
If a doctor suspects that a person has vitiligo, he or she usually begins by asking the person about his or her medical history. Important factors in a person's medical history are:
- Family history of vitiligo
- Rash, sunburn, or other skin trauma at the site of vitiligo two to three months before depigmentation started
- Stress or physical illness
- Premature (before age 35) graying of the hair
- Family history of autoimmune diseases
- Sensitivity to the sun.
The doctor may take a small sample (biopsy) of the affected skin. He or she may also take a blood sample to check the blood cell count and thyroid function. For some patients, the doctor may recommend an eye examination to check for uveitis (inflammation of part of the eye). A blood test to look for the presence of antinuclear antibodies (a type of autoantibody) may also be done. This test helps determine if the patient has another autoimmune disease.