People with vitiligo develop white spots on their skin due to an overactive immune system. The spots occur when pigment cells (called melanocytes) are destroyed by the patient’s immune cells. Melanocytes normally occur throughout the skin, and in the hair follicles, mouth, eyes, and some parts of the central nervous system. In vitiligo, pigment cells can be lost in any of these areas. Vitiligo can be associated with other autoimmune conditions such as autoimmune thyroid disease, autoimmune urticaria or hives, and autoimmune anemia. Fortunately, there are currently numerous treatment options available for vitiligo. 

Common sites of pigment loss in vitiligo

  • Exposed areas: hands, face, upper part of the chest
  • Around body openings: eyes, nostrils, mouth, nipples, umbilicus, genitalia
  • Body folds: arm pits, groin
  • Sites of injury: cuts, scrapes, burns
  • Hair: early graying of hair of the scalp, beard or other areas
  • Area immediately surrounding pigmented moles
  • Choroid of the eye

Treatments for Vitiligo

  • Narrow Band UVB (phototherapy)
  • Topical Medications
  • Depigmentation
  • Surgery (skin grafting)
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Effective June 30, 2023 Juniper Dermatology is closed

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