What is vitiligo?

If you’re asking yourself ‘what is vitiligo?’ you’re in the right place. Vitiligo is a skin disorder that changes the appearance of skin by taking away the pigment. How kind.

(Pigment is the clever thing your body makes that gives your skin its colour.)

How does it do that? Essentially, vitiligo is all down to your immune system. Little is known about what causes vitiligo, but what we do know, is that vitiligo happens when your immune system decides it is perfectly OK to go ahead and destroy your skin’s pigment. Your skin then develops white patches.

Vitiligo – the good, the bad, the ugly

The good things about vitiligo:

Vitiligo doesn’t hurt, it doesn’t kill you, it isn’t contagious.

The not so good things about vitiligo:

Vitiligo affects the appearance of skin and that means it can be difficult to live with, especially as there is little awareness in the world about ‘what is vitiligo?’.

People with vitiligo can feel self-conscious. So if you know someone with vitiligo, it’s important you don’t stare or say something idiotic. If you have vitiligo, remember you are awesome – your only challenge is to learn how to accept your vitiligo.

The ugly:

Don’t be a jerk – there’s nothing ugly about vitiligo.

Quickfire facts about vitiligo:

Vitiligo is pronounced vit-ill-EYE-go.

Vitiligo is a pigmentation disorder in which melanocytes (the cells that make pigment) in the skin are destroyed.

As a result, white patches appear on the skin in different parts of the body.

Vitiligo patches can also appear on both the mucous membranes (tissues that line the inside of the mouth and nose) and the retina (inner layer of the eyeball).

The hair that grows on areas affected by vitiligo can turn white.