Question 6. How can I be sure that I am ...?
- Uniformly white patches surrounded by normal skin, not painful and usually not itchy: this is the most usual presentation of vitiligo.
- Vitiligo is usually discovered during spring and summer months in sun-exposed areas of skin. The resulting white patches do not pigment after sun exposure and will have a tendency to sunburn easily.
- The dermatologist should always make a full body examination for vitiligo.
- A hand device (Wood’s lamp) emitting ultraviolet light is usually used to increase the visibility of white patches: this can be enough for a correct clinical diagnosis.
- A biopsy of the skin is usually not required.
- After the examination, appropriate blood tests can be taken and then the appropriate treatment be selected according to blood test results.
- Rare types of vitiligo are possible and, thus, an assessment by an expert dermatologist is advisable.
Discrete, uniformly white patches with convex borders surrounded by normal skin, not painful and very rarely itching are the usual symptoms of vitiligo. White hair can be associated or not with these white patches. Any kind of trauma of the skin may induce white patches of vitiligo in any part of the skin surface; this is called Koebner Phenomenon, and is quite common.
The diagnosis of vitiligo is usually made clinically and with the use of a Wood’s lamp, a hand device emitting ultraviolet rays (at 365 nm) which makes the color of white patches even whiter. Vitiligo is usually discovered during the spring and summer moths in sun - exposed areas: normal skin becomes tanned while vitiligo skin remains white, with tendency to sunburn. When presentation of vitiligo is atypical, a biopsy can be taken from the skin, in order to show the complete absence of melanocytes in the white patch. A full body examination is necessary to detect all skin areas affected, including mouth mucosal and genital depigmentation.
Author: Prof. Torello Lotti, MD
Please be advised that all information is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues and consult your physician or health practitioner. Users are warned against changing any aspects of their treatment, diet or lifestyle based on this information without first consulting a registered medical practitioner. While every precaution is taken to ensure accuracy, VR Foundation makes no warranty as to the reliability, accuracy, timeliness, usefulness or completeness of the content which reflect personal opinion of the authors.
I support the petition to designate June 25 as Vitiligo World Day and save millions of people worldwide from social isolation and persecution.
What is coming?
The Step Up for Vitiligo Gala
Dallas-Fort Worth Vitiligo Support Group is organizing 'The Step Up for Vitiligo Gala' which will take place on April 28th in Austin, Texas at UT-Austin. Dr. Ammar Ah...28 April 2018 12:00, Austin, Texas at UT-Austin
11th session of the Conference of States Parties to the CRPD
The 11th session Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) will take place at the United Nations Headquarters, New York, from 12 to 14 June 2018. Mo...12 June 2018 09:00, UN Plaza, New York
I have a new job - should I tell colleagues about my vitiligo?
If you are starting a new job and you are concerned about stares and questions about your skin, try a proactive approach. When the time is right and you are feeling co...
What tests should be done?
A well-trained dermatologist should be able to diagnose vitiligo and distinguish it from contact leukoderma or more than twenty other conditions with similar skin appe...
Isn't it just a cosmetic disorder?
Contrary to popular belief, vitiligo is not a cosmetic disorder but a systemic disease affecting the largest body organ and other vital systems. For more than 1.6 mi...