What is Vitiligo?

Vitiligo is a depigmenting condition of the skin, where patients develop well-defined milky white patches of skin. It affects 0.5 – 1% of the population, and can affect all races though is often more prominent in patients with darker skin types.


Vitiligo is an autoimmune condition where there is loss or destruction of the pigment producing cells. There is also a genetic susceptibility and associated with other autoimmune disorders, such as thyroid disease.

Diagnosis is usually made clinically, and the use of Wood’s light can help distinguish affected areas particularly in lighter skin individuals. Sometimes, a skin biopsy might need to be taken to confirm the diagnosis.


Treatment options include topical steroids and immunomodulators and phototherapy. There is some evidence for the use of  laser therapy and autologous melanocyte transfer. Depending on how extensive the vitiligo is the normal remainder pigment can be removed using a bleaching agent hydroquinone.

Sun protection is also important. Skin camouflage and psychological support might also be required.

Santi London, 33 Thurloe Street, London SW7 2LQ Appointments: 0207 5847000

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