Primary Symptoms and Causes of Vitiligo Skin Disease

Vitiligo Patient with Whitish Patches on Hands
Vitiligo is among the most underdiagnosed and underreported skin diseases. People in the early stages may not realize they have it. Arming yourself with the right information is one of the best things you can do if you think you might have a skin disease.

Here are the top vitiligo symptoms to help you monitor your health and stay ahead of this progressive skin disease:

  • Loss of skin color as depigmented/white patches of skin in any location on the body.
    • The most common type is called generalized vitiligo, featuring symmetrically discolored patches.
    • Others vitiligo sufferers may experience the disease on just one side or part of their body. This type is called segmental vitiligo. It typically occurs at a younger age.
    • Another type of vitiligo is referred to as localized or focal, affecting one or only a few areas of the body.
  • Common areas for white patches are: hands, feet, arms, face, lips, and around the mouth. Vitiligo also commonly occurs on armpits, groin, eyes, nostrils, navel, genitals, and rectal area.

For those who have vitiligo, their hair typically turns gray prematurely. After people identify vitiligo symptoms, they naturally want to know the potential cause(s). Unfortunately, no absolute cause(s) has been identified. But the leading research shows vitiligo may be an autoimmune disease, where the immune system destroys the pigment-forming melanocytes in the skin.

Female Vitiligo Patient with Whitish Patches on Face, Hands, and Arms

Additional potential vitiligo triggers:

  • Genes may increase likelihood of contracting this disease. If a family member has vitiligo, take extra care in monitoring your skin. Do not hesitate to tell your doctor if you notice persistent whitish patches.
  • Sunburn is believed to be a trigger, especially since vitiligo patches are more common in areas where the skin is exposed to the sun.
  • Severe emotional distress has been linked to a wide range of negative health conditions, including vitiligo.
  • Certain chemicals have been implicated as vitiligo inducers, especially phenols. Certain skin-lightening products contain phenols and have shown to be dangerous for patients. You should always ask your dermatologist before using new skin products.

If you think you have vitiligo, call your physician and schedule an appointment as soon as possible. Vitiligo is a progressive disease, and the sooner you get to a dermatologist, the sooner you can start treatment to stop it and possibly reverse it.

As you are reading this, you may already be thinking of all the reasons not to call your doctor: the cost of the visit and treatments, time it takes out of your schedule to go to the appointment, and possibly you have heard nothing can be done to help.

For each reason not to seek treatment for vitiligo, there is a much better reason to make that call and take action sooner than later.

  • Concern about the cost of care: As with almost all medical conditions, the earlier treatment begins, the less expensive it will be, and more effective first-line treatments will be.
  • Hard to take time from busy schedules: This is totally understandable. But, taking time now to see a doctor and start treatment will save you incalculable time later if you wait until the vitiligo has progressed beyond the early stages.
  • No treatment works for vitiligo: Not true! There are more effective treatment options than ever before. Some might be right for you.

Bottom Line: Waiting = More Progressed Vitiligo = More Treatments Needed = More Expensive and Time Consuming Treatments that May Not Work as Well Later.

Don’t wait.

Vitiligo can be scary. But we are always here to answer your questions and point you in the right direction to find a dermatologist who is right for you.

Contact us with any questions or requests. You are never alone.