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%.
Vitiligo is an acquired depigmentation disorder of great concern affecting 1–4% of the world population. Vitiligo is disfiguring in all races but particularly more so in dark skinned people because of strong contrast. In India and perhaps elsewhere also men, women and children with vitiligo face severe psychological and social problems. It is more acute in the case of young women and children.
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.
Vitiligo has a profound effect on the quality of life of vitiligo patients and so the patients go to any extent in getting it treated although it is not life threatening. The dermatologists should treat it as serious disease with the various treatment modes now available and not dismiss simply because of not having a completely successful treatment.