Vitiligo is described as a condition in which white patches appear on the skin. The patches usually get progressively larger, causing embarrassment for many patients. Seeking treatment is common, although there is no known cure for the condition. Most treatments focus on lessening the contrast between the white patches and normal skin by returning pigment to the patches or taking pigment away from normal skin.
No Known Cause
When melanin cells stop making pigment, the white patches begin to appear. Patients were not born with dysfunctional melanin cells like albinos' melanin cells, but rather stop producing pigment for some unexplained reason.
The cause of vitiligo is not fully understood. Some attribute it to a stressful or traumatic event, while others point to family history. Still, some doctors and scientists blame autoimmune disorders for the white patches.
Possible Risk Factors
As the cause vitiligo is not fully understood, doctors and scientists are not fully sure of the risk factors that may lead to vitiligo. Autoimmune disorders and family history are listed as possible risk factors, although these may be hard to avoid.
Patients with vitiligo may not necessarily pass along the condition to their children, and not all patients with autoimmune disorders develop vitiligo, which is why many choose to list these as risk factors and not as causes.
Individuals who notice white patches forming on their skin should contact a skincare professional. This is the best resource for information pertaining to vitiligo and its symptoms and possible treatments.