Vitiligo is an acquired disease of loss of skin (and sometimes hair) pigmentation.

Half the cases occur in childhood or adolescence. It is familial in about a third of cases. It can be associated with other abnormalities such as premature graying, and is more frequent in children with thyroid disease, adrenal insufficiency, and diabetes.

The course of vitiligo can be unpredictable; in 10-20% of patients the disease regresses and there is spontaneous repigmentation of the light patches. In the remainder, treatment is fairly prolonged, involving the use of oral or topical psoralen compounds followed by ultraviolet light exposure to induce repigmentation.

Recently, the immune modulator tacrolimus has been shown to be fairly effective for inducing repigmentation in children1 with low side effects.

  1. Archives of Dermatology 2003;139:581-585.

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