Question 2. Is vitiligo a common disease?

Key points

  • Nearly 100 million people worldwide are affected by vitiligo.
  • Vitiligo is not common in some countries and is very common in other countries: in China 0.09% of the population is affected, while in Gujarat India) 8.8% have vitiligo.
  • In females, vitiligo starts mainly in the first decade of life.
  • In males, the peak prevalence occurs in the fifth decade of life.
  • At present, no convincing explanations can be found for this wide variation in prevalence in different countries.

The prevalence of vitiligo is believed to be be-tween 0.5% and 2% of the world population on average, but local numbers may vary greatly. Large studies in China, India, and Denmark have found the prevalence to be 0.093%, 0.005%, and 0.38%, respectively. Gujarat, India is considered to have the highest prevalence in the world with 8.8% of the local people affected by vitiligo. Men and women are equally affected, but women are more likely to seek treatment. In most studies, 20% of vitiligo subjects report to having a first-degree relative suffering from vitiligo.

The mean age of onset is earlier in those patients having family history of vitiligo, which ranges from 7.7% to more than 50%. Vitiligo is significantly more prevalent in young women (≤ 30 years of age) than in young men. The peak occurrence in females occurs in the first decade of life.
Male peak prevalence is in the fifth decade of life. Vitiligo is more frequently diagnosed in spring and summer (64.4%).

Author: Prof. Torello Lotti, MD

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