You can get Vitiligo at any age but the vast majority of patients start seeing symptoms before they are 30 years old. The first sign you experience is a patch of skin which is lighter than other parts of your body. These irregular patches can appear on almost any part of your body and the progression of the depigmentation happens at different rates for each patient. The patterns happen in one of three ways:
- Focal – The loss of pigment is in a single or few areas of the body
- Segmental – The loss of pigment takes place on one side of the body and it is non symmetrical
- Generalized or Non-segmental – The loss of pigment happens across your body and it can be symmetrical
During the early stages of Vitiligo you might not notice the loss of pigment or you might think it is something else. If you have the following factors contact your doctor to determine if it is Vitiligo:
- A family history
- Graying or whitening of your hair on the scalp, beard, eyelashes and eyebrows
- Lightening or loss of color on:
- The retina, the inner layer of your eye
- The mucous membrane or the tissues that lines the inside of your mouth
The rate and the extent of the depigmentation are very difficult to evaluate. Many factors play a role in this process and every patient experiences different levels of progression or even reduction.
No one can say for certain what areas of the body will be affected by Vitiligo, but some of the most common areas where you might see the symptoms include:
- Face – eyes, nostrils and lips
- Genitals and rectal area
At the first sign of any of these symptoms talk to your general practitioner or a dermatologist who specializes in Vitiligo to determine if indeed you have Vitiligo. Early diagnosis gives you the best opportunity to stop the spread and re-pigment the skin affected by Vitiligo. Remember you have many therapeutic options to get you on the road to healing your skin. A good doctor, a positive attitude and the right information can get you well on your way to that road.