Vanguard Dermatology

Dermatologists located throughout New York, NY

Patients with vitiligo experience extreme distress as they progressively lose their natural skin color. The physicians at Vanguard Dermatology have extensive experience treating this difficult skin condition. To learn more about your treatment options, book an appointment online or call one of their seven offices in New York City, Brooklyn, Forest Hills, and Staten Island, New York.

Vitiligo Q & A

What is Vitiligo?

Vitiligo is a condition in which your skin loses its natural color. The loss of skin pigment caused by vitiligo affects all skin types and can appear anywhere on your body, even affecting your hair or the inside of your mouth.

In many patients, vitiligo begins as a few small patches of lost skin pigmentation, and then it gradually worsens. The rate at which it progresses is gradual for some and rapid for others.

There are two types of vitiligo:

  1. Segmental Vitiligo: Segmental vitiligo causes small patches of depigmented skin that stay one side of your body, and often one body part such as a leg or arm. It may progress for about a year, and then stop worsening.
  2. Nonsegmental Vitiligo: Nonsegmental vitiligo is the most common type. It appears on both sides of your body, often starting in your hands or around your eyes or mouth. You may experience rapid loss of skin color that stops then starts up again, creating a cycle that can last your lifetime.

What Causes Vitiligo?

Vitiligo develops when the cells that produce skin pigment, melanocytes, die or stop synthesizing pigment. Nonsegmental vitiligo is believed to be an autoimmune disorder that occurs when your immune system attacks melanocytes.

About 15-25% of patients with autoimmune-caused vitiligo have another type of autoimmune disease such as:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Psoriasis
  • Autoimmune thyroid disease
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Pernicious anemia
  • Addison disease

Vitiligo alone doesn’t negatively affect your physical health, but it has a devastating impact on each patient’s emotional well-being and ethnic identity.

How is Vitiligo Treated?

The team at Vanguard Dermatology works closely with each patient to develop a customized treatment that meets their needs. One treatment option consists of medications to help restore skin color in the affected areas.

Another treatment that helps restore skin color consists of a topical plant-based substance called psoralen that’s treated with light therapy.

If your vitiligo is widespread, therapy to remove color from the rest of your skin may be an option. Some patients are good candidates for surgery such as skin grafting or tattooing to restore normal pigment.

At the first signs of pigment loss, call Vanguard Dermatology or book an appointment online.