• Definition

    Vitiligo is a skin condition in which there is a loss of brown color (pigment) from areas of skin, resulting in irregular white patches that feel like normal skin.

    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    Vitiligo appears to occur when immune cells destroy the cells that produce brown pigment (melanocytes). This destruction is thought to be due to an autoimmune problem, but the cause is unknown.

    Vitiligo may appear at any age. There is an increased rate of the condition in some families. The condition affects about 1 out of every 100 people in the United States.

    Vitiligo is associated with three other autoimmune diseases:

    • Addison's disease
    • Hyperthyroidism
    • Pernicious anemia