News - 12 Feb `20Vitiligo linked to other diseases: a 10-year study of the U.S. population


It's not uncommon for people to suffer from several illnesses at once, or comorbidities

Comorbidities usually occur because they have the same root cause, and may share the same risk factors. They are very common: nearly half of older Americans suffer from three or more chronic conditions at the same time.

Results of a 10-year cross-sectional study of an urban US population published today by the Journal of American Academy of Dermatology affirmed new and known associations between vitiligo and certain autoimmune diseases. 

Vitiligo patients have a statistically significant higher prevalence of the following comorbidities:

  • hypothyroidism
  • multiple sclerosis
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura
  • seronegative arthritis
  • pernicious anemia
  • myasthenia gravis
  • inflammatory bowel disease
  • lymphoma, and
  • systemic lupus erythematosus.

These data also confirmed known associated comorbidities:

  • type 1 and type 2 diabetes
  • alopecia areata
  • psoriasis
  • chronic urticaria
  • Guillain-Barre syndrome
  • linear morphea
  • ulcerative colitis
  • celiac disease
  • Raynaud’s disease
  • sarcoid
  • Crohn’s disease
  • dermatitis herpetiformis
  • Addison’s disease, and 
  • Sjögren syndrome.

Rates of comorbid autoimmune diseases vary by race and sex. Black patients had the highest rate (16.4%), followed by:

  • white (16.3%),
  • Hispanic (15.7%), and
  • Asian patients (7.9%-8.4%).

They are more prevalent in women (17.7%) compared with men (6.7%).

Why is it important? 

Vitiligo is not a cosmetic disorder but a systemic disease. Being aware of comorbid conditions that may occur along with vitiligo is important for patients and their caretakers. Most patients with vitiligo will not develop autoimmune disease, but a significant minority will develop hypothyroidism. 

If you live with multiple disorders, it is important that your doctor is aware of all drugs and medications you are taking, to ensure they don't interfere with each other.