Patients suffering from vitiligo have white patches of skin that appear later in life. The condition differs from albinism in that albinos are born with dysfunctional melanin cells, while patients with vitiligo are born with functional melanin cells that stop working later in life. Albinos are also universally lacking pigment in their skin, hair, eyebrows and irises, while patients with vitiligo have white patches surrounded by normal skin. Seeking treatment for vitiligo is very common, although there is no known cure for the skin disease. Before arriving for your appointment, there are a few things you'll want to keep in mind.

Knowledge is Power

It's a cliche, but it's true. The more you know about vitiligo, the more involved you'll be in making decisions about the condition. Learn its possible causes (although an exact cause is not known), what risk factors may be present and what you can do to better disguise the white patches with the rest of your skin.

Don't Be Afraid to Ask

If there's a particular question that you'd like answered, don't hesitate to ask the skincare professional. They are the best resource for information and you'll want to take advantage of the opportunity to ask questions while you can. Make a list of questions before your arrive. Common questions that may be helpful include:

•    What may have caused my symptoms?
•    Are there any other possible causes?
•    What can I do to prevent future white patches from forming?
•    What is your recommended treatment?
•    Are there alternatives to your recommended treatment?
•    Is the condition reversible?
•    How can I cover up the white patches?
•    Will cosmetics or sunscreen help?

Also be sure to write down a few of your own questions so you can get as specific as possible when discussing your condition.

Additional Things to Consider

Be prepared to answer questions regarding your family history. Try and find out from a parent or grandparent if anybody else in your family has had vitiligo or other skin problems. Find out if any family members have had any thyroid or autoimmune disorders as well, as this may be important. Disclose any stress you've been experiencing, or any notable life changes that may cause stress. Also take note of any recent sunburns or blistering you've experienced. Inform your doctor of any medications you're taking as well. During an appointment, the doctor will likely ask a host of questions. The skincare professional may perform some tests to determine if you are suffering from a more serious condition such as certain autoimmune disorders.