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Vitiligo: Pathogenesis, clinical features, and diagnosis

Pearl E Grimes, MD
Section Editor
Hensin Tsao, MD, PhD
Deputy Editor
Rosamaria Corona, MD, DSc


Vitiligo is a relatively common acquired disorder of pigmentation characterized by the development of well-defined white macules on the skin. Biopsies of lesional skin reveal a loss of epidermal melanocytes [1-4]. Lesions may occur in a localized or generalized distribution and may coalesce into large, depigmented areas. Given the contrast between the white areas and normal skin, the disease is most disfiguring in darker skin types and has a profound impact on the quality of life of both children and adults [5,6]. Patients with vitiligo often experience stigmatization, social isolation, and low self-esteem [7-10].

This topic will review the pathogenesis, classification, clinical manifestations, and diagnosis of vitiligo. The management and prognosis of vitiligo are discussed separately. Other pigmentation disorders are also discussed separately.

(See "Vitiligo: Management and prognosis".)

(See "Acquired hypopigmentation disorders other than vitiligo".)

(See "Acquired hyperpigmentation disorders".)

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Literature review current through: Oct 2017. | This topic last updated: Feb 03, 2017.
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