What causes vitiligo?

Surprisingly, the causes of vitiligo are yet to be precisely established. Researchers know the cause is pre-wired in your genes, just waiting for a bad luck moment. In about half of all cases this can be a specific trigger or an unfortunate combination of benign conditions. In the other half, the cause of vitiligo remains unknown.

Psychological stress is the most frequently reported trigger for vitiligo. Severe sunburn, physical skin damage, prolonged contact with certain chemicals may induce or worsen vitiligo. Hormonal changes during pregnancy, delivery and menopause may be the culprit. Parasites and chronic gastritis that impair absorption of vital elements by the digestive system may also indirectly cause vitiligo.

Chemical triggers include materials with:

  • p-phenylenediamine (also known as para-phenylene diamine or PPD), 
  • para-tertiary butylphenol (PTBP), and
  • monobenzylether of hydroquinone (MBH), 
are commonly found in hair dyes, perfume, cosmetics, detergents, cleansers, insecticides, rubber condoms, rubber slippers, black socks and shoes, print inks, motor oil additives and germicidal soaps.
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