The main symptom is white patches on the skin. These patches may be clumped together or dispersed all over the body. Some common sites of pigment loss include:
- Areas exposed to the sun: face, hands, arms, upper part of the chest
- Areas around body openings: eyes, nostrils, mouth, navel, genitals
- Body folds: groin, armpits
- Sites of chronic minor injury: knuckles, elbows
- Sites of injury: scrapes, cuts, burns
- Area right around moles
White or prematurely graying hair and hair loss may also occur.
Vitiligo often begins with a rapid loss of skin color. This is followed by a long period without any change. Cycles of pigment loss and stability may occur again later. The cycle can continue throughout life. About half of the people with vitiligo have their first pigment loss before age 20. It is rare for skin color to return without treatment.
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical and eye exam will be done. The diagnosis is usually made by the appearance of the skin. A skin biopsy may be done to confirm. Special UV lamps may be used during skin exam. Blood tests are often taken to look for signs of autoimmune diseases.
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