What is vitiligo?

Vitiligo is a common skin disorder, affecting 1% of all races and populations. This means that over 500,000 people in the UK have vitiligo . People who develop this condition have sharply defined white patches which are often symmetrical. The hands, wrists, knees, neck and around the orifices (e.g. mouth) are frequently affected. The course is unpredictable; areas may remain static, spread or sometimes re-pigment.

What causes vitiligo?

The causes are not properly understood but there is some evidence that the disorder has a genetic origin. About 30% of patients give a family history of vitiligo .

How can vitiligo be treated?

A cure has not been found so treatment is often unsatisfactory. However, some treatment can sometimes bring the colour back into the white patches or at least control their spread. These treatments include steroid creams and ultraviolet light. Some people prefer to conceal the white patches using camouflage creams which are specially designed for this purpose and are suitable for use by both men and women. Others prefer to use self tanning creams (fake tans) which are available over the counter. It is also important to protect the white patches from sun burn by wearing suitable clothing and using high factor sun block.

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