Vitiligo Symptoms and Causes

Causes of Vitiligo

Vitiligo is a condition that causes patches of the skin to lose its pigmentation.

Incidence: Very Common
○ More than 200,000 US cases per year
○ Treatment can help, but this condition may not be cured
○ Requires a medical diagnosis
○ Lab tests or imaging rarely required
○ Chronic: can last for years or be lifelong

Vitiligo is present when patches of skin appear lighter than normal and can vary from a few small patches to many large ones. This condition can affect the whole body, including skin, hair and eyes. When melanocytes, the cells that pigment our hair and skin are lost, they leave behind patches of non-pigmented skin that appear lighter than the normally colored skin. Researchers are not yet sure why the cells are lost. It is possible that vitiligo is a type of autoimmune disease. If the immune system thinks melanocytes are foreign bodies, it will attack and kill them. This is one of at least three different theories about the cause of this condition, which can, in some cases run in families. Anyone can get vitiligo. It appears equally across race, gender, and skin color. In many, the signs present themselves before the patient reaches 21 years of age and remain for the rest of their lives. The signs of vitiligo rarely disappear. Having a close relative who has vitiligo or an autoimmune disease may increase your chances of developing vitiligo.

Cause of vitiligo: Vitiligo can be triggered by stress to the melanin pigment-producing cells of the skin, the melanocytes. The triggers, which range from sunburn to mechanical trauma and chemical exposures, ultimately cause an autoimmune response that targets melanocytes, driving progressive skin depigmentation.

What does vitiligo look like?

Loss of skin color can affect any part of the skin including the lips, hair and eyes. It may be more noticeable in people with darker skin and almost invisible in light skinned people.

Vitiligo causes
Vitiligo looks like this
What does vitiligo look like?

Treating Vitiligo:

Self-care vitiligo treatments: Sunblock helps by preventing burning of the white skin and darkening of the normal skin which makes the vitiligo more noticeable. Ultraviolet light therapy or excimer/Pallas laser can help to repigment white areas. Covermark topical and Dermablend topical are specially designed cover-up make up to hide whitened areas of the skin.

Our Clinical Vitiligo Treatment:

There are no “home runs” treating vitiligo. The best treatment to date is with narrowband UVB phototherapy. This can be done in a walk-in booth to treat the whole body or with a laser (Pallas) to treat localized areas. The lesions respond better to treatment with narrowband UVB if used in combination with a natural supplement and a topical anti-inflammatory cream. [ Learn more about vitiligo treatment }


We provide solutions for people with vitiligo. Set a consultation today by calling (206) 267-2100 and our specialists will skillfully administer the treatment or combination of treatments.