Different Types of Vitiligo

Vitiligo in arm

Story at-a-glance -

  • Vitiligo has been divided into various groups and subgroups depending on the extent and the location of the depigmentation
  • Due to the different manifestations of this skin disease in patients, researchers have divided it to different categories and subcategories

The behavior of this disease widely varies across the population, and due to the different manifestations of this skin disease in patients, researchers have divided it to different categories and subcategories.

Vitiligo Classifications

Vitiligo has been divided into various groups and subgroups depending on the extent and the location of the depigmentation.1 Localized vitiligo refers to the depigmentation that appears in one specific area of the body. This type of vitiligo can be further divided into two subgroups:2

Focal vitiligo. This is characterized by a small isolated lesion in one specific area of the body.

Segmental vitiligo. This refers to the presence of white patches that only occur on the skin on one side of the body. It usually involves the rapid spread of the patches in a particular area, but is then arrested and can remain unchanged for years.3

Generalized vitiligo (non-segmental), on the other hand, refers to the depigmentation in various parts of the body. This type is usually characterized by the gradual spread of the skin lesions to a wide region. It can also be distinguished from localized vitiligo through the symmetrical pattern that is commonly observed in patients’ skin.4 Generalized vitiligo usually starts in the hands, feet and face, and includes the following subtypes:5

Acrofacial vitiligo is characterized by white patches found on the face and the extremities. This often starts in the fingertips and facial orifices.

Vitiligo vulgaris. This is commonly distinguished from other types through its scattered distribution throughout the body.

Vitiligo universalis. Universal vitiligo refers to the wide distribution of the white patches throughout the body. This eventually leads to complete depigmentation of the skin, mucosae and hair.

An additional type is called the mucosal vitiligo, which affects the mucous membranes in the body. Although this type is commonly categorized under localized, it can also be placed under generalized because it’s usually connected to the development of vitiligo vulgaris. Mucosal vitiligo affects either the oral or the genital region.6

Contact or occupational vitiligo is another type of vitiligo that is now being studied. It refers to the apparent bleaching because of direct contact with chemicals that can destroy the melanocytes in the skin. These chemicals usually contain derivatives of catechols and phenols. However, researchers have also noted that contact vitiligo may be a subtype of generalized vitiligo because of the progression of depigmentation.7

Segmental Vitiligo Progression to Mixed Vitiligo

While mixed vitiligo is not yet part of the classification, there have been numerous cases where both segmental and non-segmental vitiligo are observed in a single patient. In most of these cases, patients start off with the development of segmental vitiligo in their childhood years and then eventually develop generalized vitiligo in a span of months or years.8

Some of the risk factors that researchers have noted were the presence of halo nevi, or moles surrounded by depigmented patches, and the presence of leukotrichia, or the gradual loss of pigment in hair.9 Initial research has also linked a higher susceptibility to mixed vitiligo progression if the initial patches of segmental vitiligo started in the torso.10

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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