5 Things That Might Cause Vitiligo

Vitiligo is a disease where the skin loses its color and develops pale white patches. In this condition, the skin’s melanocytes (the cells that give color to your skin) get destroyed or stop functioning, and the person’s skin turns milky-white. Well, no one knows what vitiligo causes are, and there is no cure either. 

Treatments are getting better and can help restore color to the affected skin, but they do not prevent the continued loss of skin color or a recurrence. Moreover, it can affect any part of the body, your hair, and even inside of your mouth. 

It can spread throughout your body with time and can affect any skin type. However, it is more noticeable in people who have darker skin tones. This is a long-lasting disorder that affects around 1% of the population globally. 

Vitiligo types

Vitiligo is of two types, namely, segmental vitiligo and non-segmental vitiligo.

Non-segmental vitiligo

It is also known as bilateral or generalized vitiligo, which is the most prevalent kind of vitiligo that affects around 9 in 10 affected people. In this, the body white patches develop proportionally on either side. 

Segmental vitiligo

Only one side of a body is affected and gets white patches in segmental, unilateral, or localized vitiligo. It is less common and is mostly found in children. 

This article will help you further understand what people say about the causes of vitiligo. Continue reading! 

Causes of Vitiligo

Autoimmune conditions

Autoimmune conditions mean when the body’s immune system does not work properly and starts attacking your body’s healthy cells and tissues instead of attacking foreign cells. Non-segmental vitiligo is a type of autoimmune condition in which immune systems destroy skin’s melanocyte cells responsible for making melanin. 

People suffering from other autoimmune diseases are more likely to be affected by vitiligo like Hashimoto’s disease where the thyroid gland is affected and alopecia, an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks follicles of the hair making it fall in more than the average amount.  


Vitiligo can run in families. Studies reveal that about 30 percent of people with this kind of skin disorder have a family history of this condition. It seems to have a certain genetic profile, just like autoimmune disease, making people more susceptible to developing this skin disorder. 

Around 50 genes associated with vitiligo have been identified, and most of them are involved with immune system regulation and inflammation.

Environmental triggers

Vitiligo can be the result of something in the environment setting that destroys the melanocytes. Potential environmental triggers include sunburn, pollutants, chemicals, and trauma or injury to the skin. 

This often triggers vitiligo to spread in people who already have the condition because the affected area of your body is most vulnerable to oxidative stress (an imbalance in certain types of compounds like free radicals and antioxidants involved in different physiological processes).

Emotional stress

Surprisingly, like physical stress, psychological or emotional distress also plays a part in aggravating vitiligo. Again, this association is not entirely understood. 

The known thing is that it is not contagious or life-threatening but does cause significant emotional pain to the affected person. The effect of vitiligo is noticeable and quite disfiguring, and psychologically very disturbing.   

Skin trauma or physical trauma

For some people, physical trauma or stress faced by the skin due to skin treatments containing chemicals or long exposure to the sun causing sunburns can cause vitiligo and may precede it. In such cases, vitiligo appears exactly in the areas that have been injured. 

So far, there are no proven links between vitiligo causes. These are just an association. No one can say that one causes the other. If your skin seems to be affected by vitiligo, quickly approach your doctor and get diagnosed before it goes out of hand.