Vitiligo Diagnosis and Treatment by Dermatologists at Mercy

Mercy Medical Center - Baltimore, MD

Vitiligo, a disease that causes a loss of skin color, is diagnosed and treated by expert dermatologists at Mercy Medical Center.

About the Condition

Vitiligo is a condition in which skin loses its color due to the destruction of pigment-producing cells in the body. The cause of this cell destruction is unknown and it typically persists throughout a person's lifetime. The color loss results in white patches that can develop anywhere on the body.

Vitiligo is not contagious or life-threatening but it can have a major impact on well-being. There is no way to tell how quickly the white patches will spread or whether or not they will multiply at all. It is important to find a doctor who has experience with vitiligo so he or she can help you understand treatment options as well as coping strategies to manage changes in your appearance.

NEXT: Symptoms & Diagnostic Process ›
Symptoms & Diagnostic Process

Vitiligo can occur at any age but it typically appears before the age of 20 and persists throughout a person's life. You may first notice white or lighter patches of skin on sun exposed areas such as the arms, hands, feet or face. You may be more likely to have vitiligo if you have a family history of the condition.

A dermatologist can diagnose vitiligo. Your doctor will perform a physical exam and collect your health history. Your doctor may also use a skin biopsy or blood test to aid in the diagnostic process.

NEXT: Treatment Options ›
Treatment Options

There currently is no cure for vitiligo but it is treatable. Treatment is aimed at restoring lost color in the skin. The type of treatment for vitiligo is dependent on factors including the area of the body affected as well as the patient's age, overall health and other medical conditions. Some patients may choose not to treat their vitiligo at all.

For those who undergo treatment, options include:

  • Topical medications
  • Light therapy
  • Surgery
  • Depigmentation (removing the remaining color)

There are advantages and disadvantages to different types of treatment. Your doctor can review your options and help you decide what is right for you.