Dear Dr. K: My dark skin makes my vitiligo very noticeable. Steroid creams haven’t helped. I’ve heard that light therapy might be an option.
Dear Reader: Vitiligo is a skin condition that causes white patches of skin to appear on the body. The patches are more obvious in dark-skinned people. Vitiligo usually appears when people are in their 20s or 30s.
The white skin patches of vitiligo are caused by the loss of melanin, the pigment that gives skin its color. Melanin is produced by special skin cells called melanocytes. For reasons we don’t understand, the immune system in people with vitiligo attacks these cells and destroys them, so no more pigment is produced. In other words, vitiligo is an autoimmune disease.
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