What You Need to Know About Vitiligo
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)
- Alopecia areata (patches of baldness)
- Adrenocortical insufficiency (Addison's disease)
- Pernicious anemia (a low level of red blood cells caused by a failure of the body to absorb vitamin B12).
Vitiligo may also be hereditary, meaning it can run in families. Children whose parents have the disorder are more likely to develop vitiligo.
White patches on the skin are the primary vitiligo symptom. These patches are more common in areas where the skin is exposed to the sun. The patches may be on the:
Other common areas for white patches are:
- The armpits and groin
- Around the mouth
In addition to having white patches on the skin, people may have premature graying of the scalp hair, eyelashes, eyebrows, and beard. People with dark skin may notice a loss of color inside their mouths.
In order to make a diagnosis of vitiligo, the doctor will ask a number of questions about a person's medical history, perform a physical exam to look for any signs of vitiligo or other conditions, and order certain tests.