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Condition Spotlight – Vitiligo

Vitiligo (vit-ih-LIE-go) is a disease that causes the loss of skin color, usually in blotches. Vitiligo can be unpredictable and the extent of the color loss can be small or cover large parts of the body. It can affect any part of your body including hair and the inside of your mouth.

Our skin color is determined by melanin and Vitiligo occurs when the cells that produce melanin die or stop functioning. No matter your skin type, you can be affected by Vitiligo. Due to the loss of color, it is more noticeable in those with darker skin types. It is not contagious or life-threatening.

What are the Symptoms?

Vitiligo usually appears before the age of 20 but can start at any age. Signs include:

  • Patchy loss of skin color
  • Premature whitening or graying of the hair on your scalp, eyelashes, eyebrows or beard
  • Loss of color in the tissues that line the inside of your mouth and nose (mucous membranes


Vitiligo is difficult to predict. Make an appointment with Alaska Family Dermatology if areas of your skin or hair lose coloring. Vitiligo has no cure. Treatment may help to stop or slow the discoloring process and return some color to your skin but does not prevent new areas of color change from appearing.