Vitiligo today

Vitiligo occurs worldwide and its prevalence is estimated to be 0.5-1% in most populations1. Vitiligo is characterised by the appearance of depigmented skin areas due to the gradual disappearance of cells, called melanocytes1. These pigment cells synthesise the pigment responsible for the colour of the skin, the melanin. In most cases, vitiligo appears before the age of 20 and affects men and women with similar frequency2.

Different types of Vitiligo can be distinguished:

  • Segmental vitiligo1
    Presence of one or more white depigmented lesions distributed over one side of the body.
  • Non-segmental vitiligo1
    Depigmented white lesions involving several parts of the body, usually with a symmetrical pattern.
  • Localised (focal) vitiligo1
    Unilateral and strictly localised spot that does not match a typical segmental distribution.
  • Generalised vitiligo1.
    The most extensive form of the disease, usually occurs in the adult. The depigmentation encompasses most of the body (80-90% of the body’s surface area).

Vitiligo causes

In numerous scientific articles, vitiligo is often associated with autoimmune diseases, but the real causes of the disease remain to be defined. However, two factors may be identified1.

Predisposing factors: Such as the presence of antibodies that recognise melanocytes and participate to their destruction.
Triggering factors: Persistent mechanical injuries (Koebner phenomenon), chemical injuries.

Impact on quality of life

The impact of vitiligo on quality of life and self-esteem is now widely recognised3. People suffering from vitiligo live in fear of a worsening accompanied by a feeling of anger, embarrassment, shame3. In more than 1 patient out of 4 suffering from it, vitiligo has an impact on their social life3.

Mis à jour le 2016-11-15


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