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vitiligo,condition that causes irregular patches of skin to lose pigment and turn white. The exact cause is unknown, but it occurs when the immune system attacks and destroys melanocytes, the cells that make pigment; the skin does not become raised or painful. Commonly affected areas are the face, elbows and knees, hands and feet, and genitals. Vitiligo can appear at any age and may worsen over time; it is more noticeable in individuals with darker skin. Treatments include ultraviolet light therapy, topical corticosteroid or immunosuppressive creams or gels, skin grafts from normally pigmented areas, opaque foundation makeup and skin dyes to camouflage the affected area, and the depigmenting of the remaining normal skin in extensive cases. Although affected areas sunburn easily and may be associated with certain skin cancers, research has found that a common gene mutation may increase both the chance of vitiligo and lower the risk of melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer.
a pigmentation disorder manifested by the disappearance of normal pigment from patches of skin. The cause is unknown. It usually starts in youth (more often in females) with the appearance of white spots of different sizes and shapes on unchanged skin. The spots gradually enlarge and coalesce, forming extensive milky-white patches. The hairs on the affected areas turn gray. Foci of vitiligo may occur anywhere on the skin. The affected individuals experience no internal sensations. Treatment consists in using drugs that increase the sensitivity of skin to ultraviolet rays and then exposing the skin to these rays.