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Vitiligo is a skin condition in which there is loss of pigment from localized areas of skin resulting in irregular skin coloration.

What is Vitiligo?


What is Vitiligo?

Vitiligo is a skin condition in which there is loss of pigment from localized areas of skin resulting in irregular skin coloration. It is not life threatening or contagious, but the radical change it may cause in a person’s appearance can cause a loss of self-esteem, which coping strategies can help with.

Where on the body can Vitiligo occur?

Vitiligo most commonly appears on the skin, but anywhere we have pigment can be affected. For example, eyes or the inside of the mouth can lose color, and hair can turn white in patches.

What are the causes and risk factors for developing Vitiligo?

Vitiligo appears to be an acquired condition and may appear at any age. There is an increased incidence in some families. Vitiligo is more noticeable in darker skinned individuals because of the contrast.

The cause of Vitiligo is unknown, but it is thought that the body attacks its own pigment cells causing them to be destroyed in local areas. This condition affects about 1% of the population. Lesions appear as flat de-pigmented areas with a darker border. The edges of these areas are sharply defined but irregular. Frequently affected areas are the face, elbows and knees, hands and feet and genitalia.

How is vitiligo diagnosed?

Examination is usually sufficient to confirm the diagnosis. In some cases, a skin biopsy may be needed to rule out other causes of pigment loss.

How is vitiligo treated?

Dr. Jennifer Janiga usually starts with a topical steroid for mild or localized disease. Newer topical medications such as Tacrolimus and Pimicrolimus may also be tried. For more extensive disease, light therapy or immunosuppression may help.

For more information, or to set up a consultation with Dr. Janiga to discuss evaluation of and treatment for vitiligo in our Reno / Tahoe dermatology and plastic surgery office, please send us an email or call 775-398-4600. Appointment length varies but is usually not more than 15-30 minutes.

Jennifer J. Janiga, MD, FAAD

Dr. Janiga enjoys taking care of both adults and children. Her extensive training and years of experience in medical dermatology, lasers, and cosmetic procedures allows her to treat her patients with the comprehensive attention they deserve.

Dr. Janiga listens attentively to what patients have to say, and works with them in planning the right course of action on an individual basis. Honest talk, humility and a fresh perspective paired with years of experience and education all contribute to the effectiveness of her straightforward care.