Vitiligo is a chronic skin condition characterized by portions of the skin losing their pigment. It occurs when skin pigment cells die or are unable to function. Aside from cases of contact with certain chemicals, the cause of vitiligo is unknown. Research suggests vitiligo may arise from autoimmune, genetic, oxidative stress, neural, or viral causes. The global incidence of vitiligo is less than 1%, with some populations averaging 2–3% and rarely as high as 16%.
The mean +/- standard deviation age of onset was 23.69 +/- 13.83 years (range < 1-77 years). No gender preponderance was seen. The back was the most common site of involvement (39.6%). Vitiligo vulgaris was the predominant form (53.5%). Mucosal lesions were associated with lesions on the feet (odds ratio (OR) = 3.177, p < 0.001), hands (OR = 2.228, p < 0.01), face (OR = 2.028, p < 0.05) and neck (OR = 0.454, p < 0.05); but were not associated with chest, abdomen, waist, arms, legs or scalp lesions. Mucosal vitiligo is probably a special form of acrofacial vitiligo.
There is no cure for vitiligo but several treatment options are available. The best evidence is for applied steroids and the combination of ultraviolet light in combination with creams. Due to the higher risks of skin cancer, the United Kingdom's National Health Service suggests phototherapy only be used if primary treatments are ineffective.
Chinese medicine has been applied to treating vitiligo, and many of the treatments involve combine topical and internal use of psoralea seed extract, rich in psoralens. As with PUVA, there is limited success by this method. However, herbal formulas aimed at treating autoimmune disorders and those aimed at systemic improvements (especially in the blood components) may have a better effect.