Vitiligo: Types, causes, symptoms, treatment of leukoderma or white leprosy

Updated on Jun 20, 2022 05:35 PM IST
Vitiligo, also known as leukoderma or white leprosy, is not fatal but can have a substantial impact on a patient's life. Doctors reveal all you need to know about its types, causes, symptoms, treatment
Vitiligo: Types, causes, symptoms, treatment of leukoderma or white leprosy (Armin Rimoldi)
Vitiligo: Types, causes, symptoms, treatment of leukoderma or white leprosy (Armin Rimoldi)
ByZarafshan Shiraz, Delhi

Vitiligo, also called ‘leukoderma' or white leprosy, is an autoimmune disorder that causes portions of skin to turn white and lose their original colour and affects up to 2% of the population. Some people may just have one or two smaller spots while others may have nearly all of their skin affected or some patients' lesions may remain static or progress slowly while others' disease spreads quickly and covers the entire body in a matter of months but it is not fatal yet can have a substantial impact on a patient's life.

In an interview with HT Lifestyle,  Dr Rohit Batra, Dermatologist and Vitiligo Expert at New Delhi's Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, said, “More than physical, the disease has a negative impact on the patient's quality of life, and they frequently experience psychological distress and low self-esteem. They are occasionally subjected to social neglect, which causes them to withdraw from society.”

Types of Vitiligo

· Vitiligo Vulgaris (Generalised Vitiligo)

· Focal Vitiligo (single, small white patch)

· Segmental Vitiligo

· Acral Vitiligo (White patches on hands and feet)

· Lip Tip vitiligo


According to Dr Sanjeev Gupta, Professor and Head, Department of Dermatology at MM Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Mullana Ambala India, “Vitiligo can affect people of all races and skin types. It's a condition caused by an autoimmune disorder. Melanocytes are specialised skin cells that produce melanin, the pigment that gives your skin and hair their colour. In vitiligo, immune system cells attack your melanocytes, preventing them from producing melanin. This causes the skin to lose its natural hue and turn white."

Other factors that may be responsible for Vitiligo ar0065

· Genetic/ Family history

· Neurogenic factors

· Stress


1. The loss of melanin is the only physical and visible indication of Vitiligo (skin pigment).

2. It might start to show up on your scalp. The lack of melanin causes the skin to turn grey or white, turning the hair in the affected area grey or white.

3. Patchy regions of depigmented skin usually look as pale and white spots. This is most commonly found on body portions that are exposed to the sun. It commonly affects the hands, wrists, and face.

4. The patch's edge can be smooth or rough, inflamed occasionally, or have a reddish/brownish discoloration.

5. It may cause a little discomfort to the skin when exposed to sun otherwise, these patches are painless and it does not even cause any sensation of itching.

6. The skin around the lips and eyes, fingers and wrists, armpits, groin, genitals, and within the mouth are the most usually afflicted locations.


Dr. Rohit Batra shared, “Latest treatment options, which include new drugs and surgical techniques, have made Vitiligo a more curable condition. A patient with Vitiligo should see a specialist as soon as possible and avoid using home cures. A certified dermatologist can guide & counsel better on the management & treatment options”.

Dr Sanjeev Gupta added, “It's important to note that vitiligo is not contagious, and it can’t be shared via touch. Though there are a lot of myths associated with Vitiligo which have impeded and hindered an individual's usual way of life as well as his or her integration into society. As a result, family members, friends, and society as a whole must create a positive environment for people living with Vitiligo and provide moral support to them. Remember, all white spots are not caused by vitiligo. As a result, do not spread any unfounded rumours because they may have an impact on the person's life, emotional state.”

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