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Are Your White Patches of Skin Vitiligo? Find Out

smiling young african casual woman with vitiligo conditionIf you’ve noticed new pale patches of skin turning white, you might have vitiligo. However, certain look-alike conditions like tinea versicolor or piebaldism can also cause skin hypopigmentation. At Keys Dermatology, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Stefanie Altmann can correctly diagnose your condition and create a treatment plan during your skin screening appointment. 

What Causes Vitiligo?

The white skin patches that characterize vitiligo happen when your immune system destroys cells that produce melanin. These melanocytes give your skin its color. Vitiligo can also affect your hair and the inside of the mouth. All races are equally affected, but the condition is more noticeable if you have a darker skin tone. 

You might be more likely to develop vitiligo if you have other autoimmune conditions like lupus, Addison’s disease, psoriasis, or rheumatoid arthritis. The exact reasons vitiligo happens are unknown, but genetic mutations, emotional stress after physical skin damage, UV radiation, and toxic chemical exposure are also thought to play a role.

Can Vitiligo Go Away?

In some cases, vitiligo does resolve on its own – but in most, it’s a lifelong condition. While you should always visit a dermatologist for a correct diagnosis, vitiligo doesn’t require any treatment.

However, many patients don’t like the look and want to minimize the contrast. Vitiligo treatments include:

  • Prescription topical medications: Applying corticosteroid creams might return some color to your skin, but it’s typically most effective in the early stages. Calcineurin inhibitor ointments can also be used for small areas of depigmentation.
  • Light therapy: Phototherapy using narrow-band UVB may stop or slow the progression of active vitiligo.
  • Skin grafting: Small areas of healthy skin can cover vitiligo patches with this surgical procedure.
  • Vitiligo tattooing: This cosmetic solution covers white patches with tattoo pigment that matches your skin color.

Vitiligo can be difficult to treat, and it’s hard to determine how it will progress. That’s why working with a board-certified dermatologist with extensive experience like Dr. Altmann is essential. 

Find Vitiligo Treatment in the Florida Keys

While vitiligo is physically harmless, it can have a serious psychological impact on many patients. At Keys Dermatology’s locations in Islamadora and Key West, our warm and welcoming providers are passionate about offering the most advanced clinical and cosmetic dermatology solutions to help our patients look and feel their best. Call 305-664-8828 to book a vitiligo treatment consultation in the Florida Keys.

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