This patient information and photograph on Vitiligo is provided by John L. Meisenheimer, M.D. a board certified Dermatologist and skin care specialist based in Orlando, Florida. This information is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice or treatment of a dermatologist or other physician.
What is it? Vitiligo is a peculiar disorder of the skin that can occur at any age. Typically it
appears as a small, white, slowly growing patch. These white patches can occur anywhere on the skin. Vitiligo is more noticeable in dark skinned individuals, and it typically does not itch, burn or sting.
What causes it? Vitiligo is a type of autoimmune disease. For some unknown reason your body's immune system mistakenly thinks that the skin's pigment cells are foreign invaders. The immune system attacks the pigment cells and the loss of these cells causes white patches to form.
Is it dangerous? For the typical healthy person Vitiligo is a harmless disorder. It is not related to cancer and it does not involve internal organs.
Can it be cured? Some people improve with treatment, others do not. Treatment is generally more successful if started early in the course of the disease. Treatment may be
required for months to years. Some people will have spontaneous clearing without treatment. See also laser treatments for Vitiligo.
Will it spread? Vitiligo can spread to involve large areas of skin, but most people have more localized involvement.
Is it contagious? Vitiligo is not contagious and you can not "catch it" from anyone.