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A skin disorder characterized by the localized loss of melanocytes, with patchy loss of skin pigment. The depigmented areas, which appear most commonly on the hands, face, and genital region, are flat and pale and surrounded by normal pigmentation. Vitiligo affects all ages and races but is most noticeable in people with dark skin. The cause is unknown, but may be an autoimmune process because autoantibodies to melanocytes have been identified and vitiligo often occurs with autoimmune diseases.
SYN: SEE: leukoderma; SEE: piebald skin.
Oral and topical synthetic trioxsalen and a natural psoralen, methoxsalen, are used with exposure to long-wave ultraviolet light, but the efficacy is doubtful. The lesions may be masked by use of cosmetic preparations. Vitiliginous areas should be protected from sunburn by applying a 5% aminobenzoic acid solution or gel to the affected areas. The use of 5% fluorouracil cream applied under an occlusive dressing to the depigmented areas may cause erosion of the dermis and, after re-epithelialization, pigment may reappear.