White Spots On The Skin - What Is Vitiligo?

If white patches spread across the skin, the skin disease vitiligo may be responsible. Vitiligo is a usually chronic skin disease that is not contagious and affects around 1% of people worldwide. It can affect the entire body, typical are often symmetrical, pigment-free patches of skin that can spread and confluent (flow together).

A disease with many question marks

The causes are still not clear. A temporary disruption of the melanocytes, i.e. the pigment-forming cells of the skin, is assumed by the body's own immune system. This disorder can become chronic and lead to the complete destruction of the melanocytes. Vitiligo often occurs with other autoimmune diseases such as diabetes mellitus or thyroid disease. The disease often begins in childhood, but affects all ages. There is also no gender preference.

Different characteristics

There are two main forms: a localized form and a generalized form. With the latter, the patients gradually lose their pigments all over their body; with the localized form, the white spots are usually limited to one region of the body. The disease often comes to a standstill after a while.

Little help for those affected

Targeted treatment is still not possible. In some cases, however, radiation therapy (UVA-UVB), immunomodulators in cream form or cortisone ointments can lead to an improvement in symptoms. A cure is usually not possible, and spontaneous healing is unfortunately very rare. Since the patients have almost no light protection on the non-pigmented skin areas, sunbathing can only be enjoyed to a very limited extent.

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Your dr. med. Peter Kessler