Vitiligo is a medical condition in which areas of the skin become depigmented, which means they lig...
Read the full transcript »
Vitiligo is a medical condition in which areas of the skin become depigmented, which means they lighten or turn completely white. Hair can also become prematurely white or gray. The color of our eyes, skin, and hair is determined by a pigment called melanin, which is produced by cells called melanocytes. In vitiligo, melanocytes die or are destroyed by cells from the body's immune system. As the melanocytes die, patches of skin turn white because the melanocytes are no longer making melanin. Vitiligo affects people of all races, but can be especially noticeable in those with darker skin. It can develop anywhere on the body, but often starts on the face, hands, arms, and feet. There may be only a few light spots, or widespread loss of skin color. There is no way to predict how much it will spread. Sometimes vitiligo stops on its own. In other cases, loss of pigment continues until it affects most of the skin surface.