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Vitiligo: Causes, Treatments, And Prevention

Vitiligo: A chronic and progressive disease that primarily affects the face and hands. But it is not contagious. Nutrition and precautions to prevent it


Vitiligo is a chronic and progressive skin disease with white patches on the limbs, trunk, and face, in which melanin is absent. It is mistakenly considered an aesthetic disease, but in reality, it is a pathology with the lowest quality of life indices due to the apparent places of its manifestation.

Types Of Vitiligo

The two most common forms of vitiligo are non-segmental and segmental. The most widespread non-segmental form is generally on the face, hands, feet, elbows, knees, and trunk. It can also affect the areas of hair or hair, resulting in whitening of the hair shaft. On the other hand, the segmental form affects only one area of ​​the body without any tendency to progress. Approximately 70-100 million people are affected worldwide, about 600-700 thousand in Italy. Vitiligo generally starts from small spots on the hands and face, which gradually get bigger and bigger without an adequate therapeutic procedure. The most common age of onset is between 15 and 35 years, but early (5-6 years) or late (70 years and older) onsets are possible.


The causes of vitiligo are not yet known, although vitiligo is often referred to as an autoimmune disease. The cause could be the result of various elements:

  • Oxidative stress.
  • Hormonal and environmental factors.
  • Malfunction of the immune system.
  • Heredity (although only 30% of patients have a known family history).

In particular, some autoimmune responses of our body can be decisive, leading to the disappearance of melanocytes and the loss of melanin. This pigment guarantees the color of our skin. Skin damage, such as heavy sunburn or intense cuts and wounds, can also be among the causes of vitiligo. Recently, a direct mechanism for forming patches emerged due to a protein called MIA, produced in patients’ skin due to a genetic error.


The diagnosis is clinical. As an aid, you can use the so-called Wood’s Light, a unique lamp with a light source capable of magnifying the white patches present on the skin. In some controversial cases, it is possible to perform a skin biopsy to certify the disappearance of melanocytes from the basal layer without clinically evident inflammation.

Is Vitiligo Contagious?

Although it is a complex pathology that can cause a severe psychological situation, vitiligo is not contagious. It is not transmitted even in the case of direct, close, and intimate contact with the person suffering from it. Therefore, this should enable people affected by vitiligo to have a relatively everyday relationship life.


There is no general cure for vitiligo, but different treatment paths depending on the type and extent of vitiligo. Once upon a time, immunosuppressive treatments (such as oral and topical cortisone ) were used, obtaining poor results. Today, MIA protein inhibitors are proving to be a valid aid, combined with sun exposure and phototherapy or as part of more integrated therapies. Since the biological mechanisms that trigger the MIA protein have yet to be clarified, it is challenging to discuss prevention generically. However, a healthy and balanced lifestyle and the ability to control stress can make a difference. Furthermore, a new topical drug from the category of immunosuppressants of the JAK inhibitor family was recently approved, which promises exciting results, although still to be confirmed in daily clinical practice.

How  Long  Does It Last

Vitiligo lasts a long time. For an improvement that can also be complete of the spots, with total re pigmentation (more frequent on the face and more demanding on the hands), it is necessary to apply creams daily, take antioxidant supplements, and follow a controlled phototherapy or sun exposure scheme. Dermatological for at least a couple of years. For areas that are more difficult to treat and as a complement or alternative to medical therapies, camouflage represents a valid option.


Since the causes of vitiligo are not yet well known, prevention starts with essential but critical choices.

  • Avoid excessive exposure to the sun
  • Be protected when sunbathing, both in summer and winter
  • Follow a healthy diet, starting with fruit and vegetables
  • Drink a lot
  • Prefer foods with beta-carotene
  • Eat foods with vitamins B-12, C, and D



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