Vitiligo (aka leukoderma) is an autoimmune skin disease in which the absence of melanocytes (pigment-producing cells) cause a decreased pigmentation (coloration) in the skin. The body creates antibodies directed against the melanocytes themselves, causing white patches. In the United States, 1 to 2 million people have the disorder. Most people with vitiligo develop it before their 40th birthday. The disorder affects all races and both sexes equally. Vitiligo is temporary in one-third of those diagnosed with it. It can be successfully treated.
Vitiligo is localized in one particular area, or generalized, affecting the body more broadly. Generalized vitiligo is more common. Vitiligo strikes the face, neck, and scalp. Other common areas are the elbows, knees, ankles, shoulders, and other bony areas: the forearms, wrists, hands, and fingers: and body orifices such as the lips, genitals, gums, and nipples. Vitiligo can show up us a patch or streak of white or gray hair on the scalp, or, in some cases, it can turn all the scalp hair white or gray. Vitiligo can affect eyebrow, pubic, and underarm hair.