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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Vitiligo
      Category : Health Centers > Skin Conditions


Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

Vitiligo is a skin disorder characterized by the development of completely white patches of skin.

What is going on in the body?

Skin and hair color are determined by melanin, a pigment produced in cells known as melanocytes. When the melanocytes are damaged or die, they no longer produce melanin. The skin becomes lighter in color.

What are the causes and risks of the disease?

Vitiligo occurs in all age ranges and all races. About half of the time, vitiligo develops before age 20. No one knows the exact cause of vitiligo, but there are four main theories:

  • Abnormal nerve cells produce toxic substances that damage melanocytes.
  • An autoimmune disorder causes the body to produce antibodies that attack and destroy the melanin pigment.
  • A genetic defect makes the melanocytes more susceptible to injury.
  • Melanocytes self-destruct.
  • Sunburn and stress may bring on vitiligo.


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    Vitiligo: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: Lynn West, MD
    Reviewer: Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
    Date Reviewed: 08/01/01

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