Vitiligo (vit-ill-EYE-go) is a disorder in which white patches of skin appear on different parts of the body. This happens because the cells that make pigment (color) in the skin are destroyed. Vitiligo can also affect the mucous membranes (such as the tissue inside the mouth and nose) and the eye. Somewhere between 0.5 and 2.0 percent of the global population has vitiligo, a disorder that affects pigmentation of the skin.
With this condition, the cells that make the skin’s pigment, called melanocytes, are destroyed. This results in white blotchy patches. For some, vitiligo may occur on the face, neck or hands, causing a dramatic and traumatizing change in appearance. For others, it may strike mucous membranes like the mouth, nose and genitals, as well as the retinas. If a patch appears on an area with hair growth, the hair will turn white or very light gray.