FAQs on white patches
Vitiligo or leucoderma

Are all white patches vitiligo?

There are different kinds of white patches on the skin. The shades range from a dull, light coloured mark to milky white large areas which cover large areas of the body. The milky white patches appearing without any obvious provocative factor are called vitiligo.


Is leprosy different from vitiligo and leucoderma?

Vitiligo is the appearance of milky white discolouration on the skin without any known cause whereas leucoderma is the name given to a similar patch but whose probable cause is known, e.g. chemical contact leucoderma.

In leprosy, the skin looks pale and does not appear white. The patches are shiny, hairless and lacks sensation to gentle touch and pain. In addition there may be deformities of the hands, feet, nose etc. due to nerve damage. The latter is absent in vitiligo and leucoderma.


Is vitiligo a curse from the gods?

Vitiligo has been proven to be a disorder of skin colour formation. The cells producing the pigment, melanin, are destroyed by certain mechanisms. As a result the overlying skin appears colourless, i.e. white. Therefore it is a skin disease, not a curse.


Is vitiligo hereditary?

While certain varieties of vitiligo are seen in some families, it can occur even in persons who have no family background of the disease.


My roommate has vitiligo. I fear that I may get it. Help!

You have no reason to panic. Vitiligo is not contagious. Instead encourage your roommate to lead a normal, healthy life.


My daughter is planning to get married to a boy whose great grandmother had vitiligo. When she has a baby from this marriage could the child get vitiligo?

The chance of your daughter’s child developing vitiligo from this marriage seems remote. Statistically the chances are negligible if close relatives, other than the great grandmother, have not had vitiligo. 


My cousin has been under treatment of vitiligo from a very reputed dermatologist. It has been over a month since the treatment began and there is no improvement. Should he see another doctor?

Vitiligo is a slowly developing disease, so also the response to treatment is slow. It takes a couple of months to stop the spread of the disease and several more moths to bring the colour back into the patches. Therefore, advise your cousin to continue treatment for at least six months with the same doctor before planning to get a second opinion.


Do I need to keep my soaps, cosmetics and towels separate when my relative who suffers from vitiligo visits us?

As vitiligo does not spread by contact there is no need to keep towels etc separate.