Vitiligo Causes & Treatment | Vitiligo FAQs

Novena Vitiligo Medical Centre
10 Sinaran Drive,
#11-05 Novena Medical Center, Singapore 307506

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About Vitiligo > Vitiligo FAQs

Vitiligo FAQs | Vitiligo Facts

Here are some vitiligo facts and information we have compiled for commonly asked vitiligo questions. If you cannot find an answer here, you can enquire here.

Who can get vitiligo?

Vitiligo is indiscriminate. People of any age, gender, or ethnicity can get it. Find out more about vitiligo here.

What are the possible causes for vitiligo?

It is believed that a degree of genetic hereditary is involved. Genetic susceptibility along with environmental factors such as oxidative stress, a stressful event or chemical exposure etc. Autoimmune disorder where an overactive immune system destroys the melanocytes can also cause vitiligo.

How do you diagnose vitiligo?

If vitiligo is suspected, the doctor would ask about your medical history, examine and try to rule out other medical problems like dermatitis or psoriasis. A special lamp will be used to shine ultraviolet light onto the affected skin to determine whether you have vitiligo.

Can vitiligo be spread to another person?

No, vitiligo is not contagious.

Can my vitiligo be treated?

Yes, it can be treated. Treatments are available for improving skin appearances. Options include excimer light therapy, phototherapy, topical corticosteroid creams etc. 

How long will treatment take?

It will depend on a number of factors such as duration of condition, area affected and degree of pigment loss. Treatment may take anywhere from 3 – 6 months before results are seen. Each individual is unique and our doctor will adopt a customized treatment plan to maximize results.

Are treatment results permanent?

The cornerstone of vitiligo treatment is inducing re-pigmentation and preventing further recurrence of disease. After vitiligo treatment, regular follow ups and therapy are required to minimise chances of recurrence of disease.

How to tell if a vitiligo treatment is effective?

After a period of treatment, if one of the following phenomena is observed, the treatment can be said to be effective:

  • vitiligo is no longer developing

  • the edges of the vitiligo patches turn from indistinct to clear and colour is deepening

  • follicular dark spots are appearing at the centre of the vitiligo patch

  • patches color turn red or fade, blurred, gradually retracted

At this point, patient should seize the time to maintain treatment in order to achieve the best results.

I have vitiligo, do I really need to see a doctor?

You should treat your vitiligo as soon as you can. This is to prevent other related problems, such as skin cancer from developing as some vitiligo treatments work best when they are done early. The doctor also needs to rule out whether you have a skin problem with symptoms similar to those of vitiligo. You may need a different kind of treatment for skin problems like psoriasis or dermatitis.

What are the available treatment options and their respective efficacies?

Refer to the treatment options page for detailed information.

Is sun exposure good or bad for a person with vitiligo?

Vitiligo affected skin patches are very prone to sunburn as they lack the protective melanin pigments. It is advisable for patients to use broad spectrum high protection factor sunscreens on affected areas.

Can vitiligo patients go swimming?

Yes, they can go swimming. However, they have to ensure that they pay attention to the amount of sun exposure they are getting while swimming as the sun exposure can aggravate their condition.

What foods to avoid and eat?

There is no ‘vitiligo diet’. A healthy diet with balanced nutrition from a variety of sources is encouraged.

Vitiligo affects my social interactions, what should I do?

Many people do not understand vitiligo and think it is abnormal. As such they may subject vitiligo patients to alienation and discrimination. You should, however, maintain a normal lifestyle regardlessly; socializing and actively cultivating your own interests to show the positive & optimistic side of yourself to win people's respect. In reality many examples show that vitiligo does not affect relationship with spouse and friends. You should always express their feelings and realize that it is important to communicate with your friends.