What is Vitiligo?
Vitiligo is a condition of the skin in which the skin loses its melanocytes, or pigment cells, in certain areas. This results, typically, in discolored patches around the skin. These affected areas can appear anywhere on the body, as well as on the hair and mucous membranes. While vitiligo can affect anyone, it is often more visible on people with darker skin. It is not a contagious condition and it is not a life-threatening condition.
Signs and Symptoms of Vitiligo
Vitiligo starts at any age, but usually presents before someone is 30. The signs of vitiligo include:
- Patches on the skin that have lost their color
- Prematurely greying hair
- Fading color or loss of color on the mucous membranes inside the nose or mouth
What Causes Vitiligo?
Vitiligo happens when the melanocytes in the skin, hair or mucous membrane start to die off or stop working. The absence of these pigment-producing cells results in a faded color in that area of the skin. What triggers this is not exactly known. Vitiligo may be related to an autoimmune condition, hereditary traits or a triggering event such as skin trauma or stress. While non-life threatening, vitiligo can come with some complications, including social stress, eye issues, hearing loss and a higher tendency to sunburn in the affected areas.