The spots on your skin may not be vitiligo, which is why it is very important to undergo a dermatological examination.
What is Vitiligo?
Vitiligo is an autoimmune skin disease that causes skin discoloration and subsequent formation of white patches.
It is a fairly common disease and is often diagnosed by a dermatologist simply by looking at it, often with the help of a special light called a Wood’s lamp.
Some skin conditions may resemble vitiligo but be quite different and one of them can be treated differently.
Types of Vitiligo
This condition can sometimes have different appearances, so being familiar with the different patterns that may exist is helpful in recognizing it and distinguishing it from other conditions.
For example, vitiligo can affect a small area, usually before it spreads, called focal vitiligo.
It can become widespread. called generalized vitiligo.
It can affect only the lips and genitals, called mucosal vitiligo, or those areas plus the fingertips, called lip tip vitiligo.
It can affect the face and hands and feet, which is called acrofacial vitiligo.
Universal Vitiligo means that most of the skin has lost its pigment as it is spread all over the place, we usually reserve this term for when at least 80% are affected.
Perhaps most importantly, it can only affect one side of your body and remain in a small area, which is called segmental vitiligo.
Physical examination and Wood’s lamp
Wood’s lamp is a UVA light that looks dark purple and is used by holding it close to the skin with all room lights turned off.
When a patient has, Wood’s light makes all white fluorescent spots a bright white, making them clearly visible in contrast to normal skin color, even if normal skin is very pale.
It is an incredibly useful tool for a dermatologist and specialist in this condition, because few other diseases make the skin white in this way.
So when the spots light up under Wood’s lamp, it narrows down the possibilities a lot. Combined with other information gathered from talking to the patient, we can usually diagnose this condition without a skin biopsy.
Maybe it’s not vitiligo if what you do?
The dermatologist makes a differential diagnosis or a list of diseases that could cause skin changes.
Subsequently, further information is collected to narrow the list and in some cases a biopsy of the skin biopsy may be performed to obtain a safer analysis.
Really depigmented spots
If the spots improve under Wood’s lamp, they could be from Vitiligo or a small number of other conditions.
One condition is idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis (IGH), or small patches that appear on skin that has had chronic sun exposure.
Idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis (IGH)
Often these are hypopigmented, not depigmented, but sometimes they are depigmented and enhanced on Wood’s lamp.
If they are evenly distributed, they remain small (usually 1-2mm in diameter but almost always under 5mm) and are in the right areas of the body, then they are likely IGH and not vitiligo.
Another condition that rarely causes a true white spot is depigmented nevus, which is a birthmark that usually appears within the first few months of life, has jagged edges, usually does not cause the hair to whiten, and does not grow in size like spots. vitiliginous.
Also, it can get bigger as the baby grows and the skin stretches, but not as quickly as Vitiligo does.
If your dermatologist isn’t sure whether the spot is depigmented nevus or segmental vitiligo, a biopsy can tell for sure, but it’s not always necessary.
Piebaldism causes localized depigmentation only in the front of the body (not the back), it includes a “white tuft” or white hair at the front of the scalp.
This condition is present from birth and there is usually a family history present.
Albinism is also a skin condition that can be confused with vitiligo.
It is a hereditary congenital anomaly characterized by the total or partial absence of melanin but unlike vitiligo it is not an autoimmune condition.