Vitiligo is a harmless, but often cosmetically disturbing disease, in which the skin and also the hair are losing their color. This is caused by the disappearance of pigment cells in the skin. Vitiligo can be an important and burdensome problem for the patient, which in some cases can also affect self-esteem and self-confidence. Vitiligo cannot be cured.


The exact cause of vitiligo is still unknown. The condition is possibly the result of an autoimmune disease. In autoimmune diseases, the immune system is aiming against tissues of our own body. In case of vitiligo, it is assumed that such immunological response causes destruction of pigment cells. It has been demonstrated that other autoimmune diseases occur more frequently in patients with vitiligo, such as certain diseases of the thyroid, diabetes and alopecia areata. Moreover, vitiligo often appears to be a familial disease, since multiple people within a family suffer from the disease. Even identical twins are apparently sensitive in the same way for developing the white vitiligo spots.
Some factors may trigger vitiligo. This applies, however, only to people who already have a predisposition to developing this condition. Known factors include serious diseases, surgery, pregnancy, childbirth, sunburn and skin damage from injuries. Emotional stress may also trigger or worsen vitiligo.


Vitiligo spots are white: all pigment has gone. The spots may differ in shape and size. The spots can also still grow. Around the spot is often an edge that is darker than the rest of the skin. Of course, the spots stand out mostly on a tanned or naturally pigmented skin. Although vitiligo spots can occur on the entire body, there are certain preferred sites where they can be found. This is the face, the hands and places in the pubic area. Even in places where the skin has been damaged, people predisposed to vitiligo can develop new discolored spots. Hair growing in vitiligo spots is usually white.


Vitiligo is generally so easy to recognize that the diagnosis can be made on the basis of the characteristic skin defects. Additional laboratory tests are rarely needed.


Vitiligo cannot be cured. However, it’s possible to counteract pigment loss and get lost pigment partially back. For this, different methods can be used:


Vitiligo doesn’t pass, but in some cases spontaneous improvement may occur. In particular, vitiligo spots in the face often respond well to treatment. Vitiligo spots on hands and feet almost never improve. In most cases, the spots will remain and in the long run expand slowly.