Vitiligo is an immune system disease that manifests through lack of pigmentation in certain areas of the body. In people with dark skin tones, vitiligo is more visible, due to the skin patches that will be white and will contrast with the rest of the skin.
Vitiligo and Dark Skin Tones
Vitiligo is a rare disease present in less than 1% of the world’s population, but may affect people regardless of the skin tone. The disease is determined by a reaction of the immune system that will attack the melanocytes, which are in charge of the skin pigmentation in the human body.
In people with darker skin tones, the melanocytes are more active. If these cells are destroyed by the immune system, white skin patches occur. These patches occur first on the extremities (fingers and toes) and may spread to the hands, wrists, arms or ankles, feet and lower legs. Skin de-pigmentation may also occur around the mouth, eyes or genital area. The patches may grow larger, if the condition is not controlled.
Vitiligo is not a health risk itself, but may do a lot of damage to the psychological well being of the patient, especially if the condition is visible. In patients with dark skin tones, the condition is more visible, so the patients are more likely to become self conscious and develop stress and/or depression due to the presence of these unaesthetic skin patches.
In rare cases, the patches can develop into lesions which may attract secondary skin infections.