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Vitiligo is a skin disorder in which white patches of skin appear on different parts of the body because the cells that make pigment (melanin) in the skin are destroyed. Vitiligo is considered generalized because it can affect the skin of any part of the body.

It is a common disorder that is present in about 1 or 2 persons out of 100. Almost half of the persons who develop vitiligo, have it before age 20 and approximately a 20% of patients have a family member with the disease. However, it is not considered hereditary.

The majority of persons with vitiligo have no health problems, although in some cases it is associated with other illnesses such as thyroid disorders or diabetes. It is not known why it appears, but it has been suggested that vitiligo has an autoimmune origin, developing in those persons genetically predisposed. It is thought that auto-antibodies destroy the melanocytes (the cells that produce melanin) but there is no way to predict if generalized vitiligo will spread or how severe the loss of pigment will be.


  • PTPN22
  • SMOC2
  • 17p13.2