Medical questions & health advice by licensed doctors
"How do hypopigmentation and vitiligo differ?"
I'm a middle aged woman of color, and I am developing vitiligo on my face. But when I showed it to my doctor, she called it 'hypopigmentation'. Is this the same thing as vitiligo? If not, what is the difference? Are they treated the same way?
There are several different causes of hypopigmentation, or loss of skin color. The doctors who are well qualified to discuss this issue with you include your primary care doctor or your dermatologist. Hypopigmentation is a general medical term used to describe any loss of the pigmentation or color of the skin. Vitiligo does fall under the more general category of hypopigmentation. Vitiligo is a progress, chronic form of skin hypopigmentation which does not have a clear cause. Post inflammatory hypopigmentation is when patches of skin lose color after a burn, skin infection, or other local injury. Albinism is a rare, genetic cause of hypopigmentation in which the pigment melanin cannot be form. Persons with albinism have pale skin, hair, and irises (the colored portion of the eye). Finally, some fungal infections of the skin, such as tinea versicolor, give the skin a patchy appearance with blotches of lighter colored skin being present. This is usually seen on the back on chest primarily and responds well to antifungal medications. As always, the diagnosis and management of your specific condition will require a physical examination by your personal physician. Scheduling an office visit with your dermatologist or with your primary care doctor is recommended.
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