Overview of Vitiligo

Vitiligo Meaning in Urdu

پھلبہری یا برص ایک دائمی بیماری ہے جو کہ جِلد کو شدت کے ساتھ متاثر کرتی ہے۔ برص کی وجہ سے جِلد کا رنگ تبدیل ہونا شروع ہو جاتا ہے اور جِلد پر سفید دھبے نمودار ہو جاتے ہیں۔ جِلد کی قدرتی رنگت کو برقرار رکھنے ک لیے پگمنٹ نامی ایلیمنٹ اہم کردار ادا کرتا ہے۔ یہ ایلیمنٹ بنانے والے سیلز پر جب مدافعاتی نظام کی جانب سے حملہ کیا جاتا ہے تو جِلد میں پگمنٹ کا توازن برقرار نہیں رہتا، جس سے سفید دھبے نمودار ہو جاتے ہیں۔ پھلبہری کے علاج کے لیے اگر فوری طور پر علاج حاصل نہ کیا جائے تو اس کی شدت میں اضافہ ہو سکتا ہے۔

Vitiligo is a long-term autoimmune disease that causes parts of the skin to develop pale-white patches due to pigment loss. This pigment loss happens when the immune system attacks pigment-producing skin cells. With time, the discolored skin patches typically get enlarged. Although vitiligo causes changes in any skin part, it most frequently affects the hands, face, neck, and wrinkles in the skin. In rare cases, vitiligo may even impact the tongue and hair.

Vitiligo Skin Appearance

The skin affected by Vitiligo starts as a pale skin patch that gradually becomes all-white. The patch’s center can be white, with pale skin surrounding it. If there are blood vessels under the vitiligo skin patch, the appearance can be somewhat pink rather than white. The vitiligo skin margins can be straight or wavy.

Prevalence of Vitiligo

Vitiligo can affect any skin tone. However, it is more noticeable in people with brown skin tones because these skin patches stand out from the rest of the skin color. Females are more affected by Vitiligo as compared to males. 

Vitiligo impacts almost 0.5-2% of the population around the world. Vitiligo typically first appears in people in their mid-20s, but it can happen at any age. For example, segmental vitiligo often begins in childhood and usually appears on the face. 

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Signs and Symptoms of Vitiligo

Vitiligo symptoms include:

  • Loss of skin color, typically manifesting in patches on hands, face, and regions near body openings and genitalia
  • Premature greying or whitening of eyebrows, beard, eyelashes, or scalp hair
  • Loss of color in mucous membrane bordering the inside of the mouth and nose

You may experience minor vitiligo symptoms on a tiny body section or severe symptoms over a large skin region. Some people experience itchy skin before depigmentation starts. 

Vitiligo symptoms can show up anywhere on your skin. The most typical sites for vitiligo symptoms are hands, feet, arms, face, mucosal surfaces (inside of your mouth, lips, and nose), and genitals. 

Types of Vitiligo

Different types of Vitiligo are:

  • Generalized: This is the most prevalent kind of vitiligo, which results in skin patches showing up all over your body
  • Segmental: Only one side of your body or one particular part of your body, such as your hands or face, gets affected
  • Mucosal: Vitiligo affects the mouth or vaginal mucous membranes 
  • Focal: This is a rare kind in which the patches only appear in a small area and do not spread outward for one to two years
  • Trichome: This kind creates a bullseye with a white or colorless center, then a lighter-pigmented skin area, and finally a natural-toned portion of your skin
  • Universal: This uncommon form of vitiligo results in more than 80% of your skin being pigment-free

Causes of Vitiligo

Melanin is a skin pigment that controls the hue of skin and hair. Melanin comes from melanocytes, the cells that give your skin its color. In the case of Vitiligo disease, these melanin-producing cells either die or stop working, causing depigmentation where the skin patches turn milky-white. 

  • An Underlying Automimmne Disorder: Sometimes, the immune system mistakenly perceives melanocytes as foreign invaders that may harm the body. The immune system overreacts to this by producing antibodies that attack the melanocytes. 
  • Genetics and Heredity: Sometimes, vitiligo runs in families, but the inheritance pattern is complicated because of several potential causes. There are almost 30 genes that can trigger vitiligo. Vitiligo disease affects at least one close relative in about one-fifth of those having it. 
  • Stressful Triggers: Being prone to extreme stress and frequent emotional or physical stress can cause a change in melanocyte production. Ultraviolet radiation and toxin exposure may impact melanocytes as well. 

Risk Factors of Vitiligo

The risk factors of Vitiligo usually include:

  • A family member having Vitiligo
  • A family member having an autoimmune disorder, particularly one affecting the thyroid or alopecia areata, a type of hair loss
  • You have non-Hodgkin lymphoma or Melanoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system
  • You are getting immunotherapy for melanoma

Health Complications of Vitiligo

Despite being a cosmetic disorder, vitiligo may result into:

  • Skin sensitivity: Macules and patches lack melanocytes, making them more susceptible to sunburn than other skin parts. Instead of tanning, this might quickly burn your skin. 
  • Eye abnormalities: Individuals with vitiligo may see changes in the color of their irises and retinas. Though Vitiligo doesn’t impact eyesight, the retina or isis may typically become inflamed.
  • Autoimmune disorder predisposition: People with vitiligo may be more susceptible to developing other autoimmune diseases that alter the immune system's response. Diabetes, hypothyroidism, and anemia are some common autoimmune disorders.
  • Emotional difficulties: Vitiligo disease may cause feelings of shame due to the skin's appearance. These feelings may result in anxiety or depression, making the person withdraw from social situations.



There is no known technique to stop vitiligo from depigmenting the skin because it may have several causes. So, how to prevent Vitiligo? You can lower your chance of getting vitiligo disease by:

  • Adopting sensible sun exposure practices
  • Employing a moisturizer daily to take care of your skin
  • Relieving emotional stress by exercising
  • Managing any autoimmune disorders that you have


If you notice any white spots or patches on your skin, no matter how tiny, it’s essential to find out if you have Vitiligo disease. A general physician usually diagnoses vitiligo disease by:

  • Taking History: The doctor does a detailed background check to determine if you have any family history of vitiligo or autoimmune disorder. 
  • Physical examination: The dermatologist may perform a thorough physical examination to determine if you have had a severe rash or sunburn on the affected skin or if you tan easily in the sun. 
  • Wood Lamp: The Wood Lamp is a diagnostic test to distinguish vitiligo from other skin conditions. It is a tool that examines skin or hair by exposing them to ultraviolet radiation. 

Treatment of Vitiligo | When to Consult a Doctor

There is no particular cure for Vitiligo, although this condition is not harmful to your body. Vitiligo treatment is available to make you feel better about yourself. Some of the options include:

  • Medication: Drugs inhibiting the pigmentation rate are effective at calming the patient’s overactive immune system. These medications may help regrow melanocytes and bring color back to the skin. 
  • Light Therapy: In light therapy, the vitiligo skin is exposed to ultraviolet rays (UVB). It may increase the number of melanocytes and prevent further white patch formation. 
  • Depigmentation Therapy: This therapy is an option to treat widespread vitiligo. It uses the drug Monobenzone to match the natural skin tone with the depigmented skin patches. Monobenzone works by removing color from normal skin located around the vitiligo skin. 
  • Surgery: The surgery for vitiligo employs skin or blister grafting methods. This surgery works by taking a skin graft from a normal body part and attaching it to the depigmented skin. 

Seeking counseling or seeing a mental health expert may help to manage anxiety, depression, or low self-esteem related to skin changes. Psychological distress due to vitiligo may influence a person's worldview and social interactions. If this occurs, a healthcare provider might advise visiting a therapist or a support group.

Get in touch immediately with a Dermatologist if:

  • Your skin is rapidly losing color or pigment
  • The depigmentation is happening over a substantial portion of your body
  • The skin changes are impacting your mental health and general well-being