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Symptoms of vitiligo

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Man with vitiligo

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  • The start of this skin disease is often characterized by the development of macules, which are small discolored spots on the skin. Depigmentation usually starts in areas of the body that are more commonly exposed to the sun, including the face, hands, arms and feet
  • The first signs of vitiligo usually manifest in people before they reach their 20s

The main symptom of vitiligo is the loss of pigment in certain portions of the skin. Due to the contrast in color, cases of vitiligo are more observable in people who have tanned or dark skin.1 The white patches are also more pronounced in summer when people usually get tans from sun exposure.2

The first signs of vitiligo usually manifest in people before they reach their 20s. However, this does not mean that vitiligo is limited to people in this age bracket.3

Additional symptoms of vitiligo

Vitiligo usually starts with the loss of color on the sun-exposed portions of the skin.4 While the color of these parts changes drastically, the texture and sensation are usually preserved.5

However, an increased sensitivity to sunlight is usually observed because of the absence of melanin, which functions as protection against the sun. It is highly recommended to employ protective measures against sunburn if you’re affected by this skin condition.6

Aside from skin depigmentation, some other symptoms of vitiligo include the following:

  • Loss of color in hair, eyelashes or eyebrows — The absence of melanocytes in the skin may be accompanied by the loss of bulbar melanocytes, which are responsible for hair color. This may cause the gradual depigmentation of your eyelashes, eyebrows or some patches on your head.7
  • Depigmentation of the tissues inside the mouth — The loss of melanin can also be observed in mucous membranes and mouth tissues.8 White vitiligo patches may develop on the lips as well.9
  • Color changes in the eyes — There are cases in which the eyes, specifically the choroid, may exhibit some hypopigmentation in vitiligo patients.10

How does vitiligo progress?

The start of this skin disease is often characterized by the development of macules, which are small discolored spots on the skin. Some accounts claim that depigmentation usually starts in areas of the body that are more commonly exposed to the sun, including the face, hands, arms and feet.11

There is no clear course for the progression of this condition because of the variations in the occurrence of vitiligo in patients.12 However, figuring out the type may prove to be useful in predicting the development of the disease. While segmental vitiligo usually develops asymmetrically and is confined to a specific area without crossing the body’s midline, nonsegmental vitiligo is more unpredictable. The patches typically spread symmetrically.13,14

The timeframe for the spread of this skin condition is unpredictable, too. As a progressive disease, vitiligo sometimes takes years before affecting a considerable amount of skin. But in some individuals, it can develop at a faster pace.15

MORE ABOUT VITILIGO

Vitiligo: an Introduction

What Is Vitiligo?

Vitiligo Symptoms

Vitiligo Causes

Types of Vitiligo

Vitiligo Treatment

Vitiligo Prevention

Vitiligo Diet

Vitiligo FAQ

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