Q: My son has got white blotches on his face which seem to enlarge and become more visible. What is it?
A: It may be vitiligo, a condition when certain skin areas, most frequently on face and hands, lose skin pigment. Vitiligo is not medically dangerous, although it’s quite upsetting for those, who it affects from the aesthetic point of view.
Q: What is typical for vitiligo blotches? Are they usually multiple?
A: There are a few types of vitiligo. With a focal type you may have just a few spots in one specific area. Most commonly vitiligo manifests as symmetrical white spots all over the body and that is a generalized form. Rarely white spots appear only on one part of the body – left or right one. This one is called segmental vitiligo.
Q: Does vitiligo affect only kids?
A: No, it can occur in adults too, most frequently in people under 20 y.o. though. In the USA up to 2 mln people are affected by vitiligo, 1 mln is kids and teenagers.
Q: Is vitiligo potentially dangerous or contagious?
A: Absolutely not. It has no relation to skin cancer or any other dangerous skin conditions and it’s not contagious.
Q: Is vitiligo a genetic condition?
A: Presumably, yes, since in 30% of children who develop it, there’s a family history of this condition.
Q: Are there vitiligo risk factors?
A: There’s a widespread opinion about vitiligo being an autoimmune disorder. That’s why some autoimmune diseases such as alopecia may cause vitiligo. Other risk factors include family history of diabetes or thyroid disease.
Q: Can vitiligo be accompanied by other symptoms apart from white blotches on skin?
A: Actually, yes but they are all associated with loss of pigment, such as premature hair graying or loss of color on the lips.