Vitiligo is a condition where pale white patches develop on the skin. It is due to a lack of colour (pigment) in the affected areas of skin. Vitiligo does not make you feel ill. However, the appearance of vitiligo can be distressing. This is particularly so for darker-skinned people where white patches are more noticeable.
Areas of skin with patches of vitiligo have no or very few melanocytes. The melanocytes are either damaged or destroyed in the body. Therefore, melanin cannot be made and the colour of the skin is lost. It is not known why the melanocytes go from affected areas of skin. They may be destroyed by the immune system or self-destruct for reasons not yet known. It is thought to be an autoimmune condition. This means that your own immune system (which normally protects your body from infections) causes damage. In the case of vitiligo it destroys your skin cells that make melanin.
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