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Vitiligo Causes & Risks

Causes

The white patches are due to the destruction of melanocytes cells. These cells in the skin make pigment. Loss of pigment causes the skin to become lighter. It looks especially lighter compared to normal skin nearby. This is why vitiligo is more visible in darker-skinned people.

The exact cause of the pigment loss is not known. Possible causes include:

  • The body’s immune system may destroy the melanocytes
  • Melanocytes may destroy themselves
  • Defective nerve cells may make toxic substances that harm the melanocytes

It is likely that a genetic defect make the cells more vulnerable to damage.

Risk Factors

Factors that increase your chance for vitiligo include:

  • Family members with vitiligo or hair turning gray early
  • Age: 10 to 30
  • Certain autoimmune diseases, most notably thyroid disease

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright © 2019 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.

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