What Is Vitiligo and How Can It Be Treated?

What Is Vitiligo and How Can It Be Treated?

Vitiligo is an autoimmune skin disorder that causes white patches to appear in place of the skin’s natural color. Vitiligo occurs when pigment-producing cells (melanocytes) stop producing melanin. Melanin is the pigment that gives color to the skin, hair, and eyes. It is not known exactly what causes vitiligo.

The extent of skin color loss from vitiligo is unpredictable. It can affect the skin anywhere on the body and the hair. Vitiligo can have serious effects on one’s self-esteem, social life, and quality of life. Vitiligo affects roughly 1% to 2% of the population and does not discriminate among skin type, sex, or ethnicity.

Several interventions have been developed to successfully treat patients with vitiligo, although no cure has been found. The condition is not life-threatening or contagious.


The main symptom of vitiligo is the appearance of white spots or patches on the skin. The first white spot that becomes noticeable is often in an area more exposed to the sun, such as the hands, feet, arms, face, and lips. Vitiligo starts as a single spot, a little paler than the rest of the skin, but as time passes, this spot becomes paler until it turns white.

The patches are irregular in shape. At times, the edges can become a little inflamed with a slight red tone, sometimes resulting in itchiness. The discoloration associated with vitiligo typically does not cause any discomfort, irritation or tenderness.

The effects of vitiligo vary between people. Some people may have only a handful of white spots that develop no further, while others develop larger white patches that join together and affect more extensive areas of skin.

Vitiligo signs include:

  • Patchy loss of skin color
  • Premature whitening of the hair on the scalp, eyelashes, eyebrows or beard
  • Loss of color in the tissues lining the inside of the mouth and nose
  • Loss of or change in color of the inner layer of the eyeball (retina)

What Patients Are Saying

“The professional, friendly staff has been great to work with. They are so accommodating to my schedule, and very flexible in fitting my treatment times into my busy schedule. It’s been a terrific partnership. I am so pleased with the results.”

Matthew, Los Angeles

“After years of suffering from psoriasis, constant trips to the dermatologist and many expensive creams, my psoriasis cleared, only to return with a vengeance later. Array’s cutting edge phototherapy treatment has made all the difference. It has provided relief that years of medication did not. I am so glad I made the call.”

Sherri, San Clemente

Types of Vitiligo

Vitiligo is typically categorized as one of the following types:

  1. Nonsegmental (or generalized) vitiligo is the most common type of vitiligo and results in white patches appearing on both sides of the body. The condition often  starts near the hands, eyes or mouth, feet, or in an area of the body where the skin rubs together frequently.
  2. Segmental vitiligo is less common than non-segmental vitiligo and appears in one area of the body, such as on one arm, one leg, or one side of the face. In about half of cases, it’s accompanied by color changes in the hair, eyebrows, or eyelashes.

How to Treat Vitiligo

Narrowband UVB is widely used and has become the first choice of phototherapy for adults and children with generalized vitiligo. Treatment frequency is 2-3 times weekly and can be safely used by most patients, including children, pregnant women, and lactating women.

Array Skin Therapy utilizes FDA-approved phototherapy to do what “internet cures” cannot do — repigment vitiligo and possibly prevent new spots from forming. The specialized light penetrates the epidermis to stimulate inactive pigment cells in or around de-pigmented areas.

Vitiligo phototherapy treatments are:

  • Safe and effective
  • Painless
  • Fast (patients are typically in and out within fifteen minutes, on average)
  • Covered by most insurance providers, including Medicare

The face and torso areas respond exceptionally well to phototherapy, while bonier areas such as hands, feet, and knees may require longer treatment cycles. Phototherapy treatment for vitiligo requires multiple sessions.

At Array Skin Therapy, we’ve developed every aspect of our practice to allow for a convenient and highly supportive experience for patients. Phototherapy has improved the quality of life for thousands of people.To learn more about phototherapy or find out if it could be the right solution for you, please feel free to contact us.

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