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Coping with Leucoderma (Vitiligo): the White Spot Disease

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Coping with Leucoderma (Vitiligo): the White Spot Disease

4 min read


Leucoderma is a common skin condition, and it has a considerable social stigma. It is better to be informed about it and to learn how to support others.

Written by

Dr. Vinay Kumar

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Preetha. J

Published At February 8, 2016
Reviewed AtMarch 20, 2024

What Is Leucoderma (Vitiligo)?

Vitiligo (also called white spot disease) is a skin disorder characterized by total skin color loss in the affected area.

  • Vitiligo is a common disorder of the skin affecting all races with nearly equal distribution.

  • Skin lesions are porcelain or marble white.

  • There is a susceptibility for new lesions to develop on the sites of trauma or friction.

  • There is an increased risk of vitiligo in the offspring born to vitiligo patients.

What Are the Causes of Vitiligo?

The exact cause is not known, but it is usually known to be hereditary.

  • It is an autoimmune disease where the immune system fights on our cells that produce pigment.

  • It might show up due to stress, overexposure to the sun, or chemicals.

Some of the most frequent causes of leucoderma might involve traumatic incidents, including accidental cuts, thermal burns, psoriasis, eczema, and ulcers following the development of the white patches. Leucoderma can also be caused by congenital abnormalities, like partial albinism, tuberous sclerosis, Waardenburg syndrome, and piebaldism. This issue can also result from immunological conditions like vitiligo, melanoma-associated leucoderma, halo mole, or vitiligo. Certain medications like EGFR inhibitors, intralesional steroid injections, and others could likewise cause leucoderma. Certain chemicals like butyl-phenol can also trigger the symptoms and may cause leucoderma.

What Are the Symptoms of Vitiligo?

Leucoderma is more common in females than in males. One can usually see it on the hands, neck, back, and wrist. Though this condition does not cause any systemic impairment, the patches indeed will look ugly and upsetting. Vitiligo can attack people of any age and sex and can be seen on any skin. The symptoms may include:

  • White, oval macules, well-demarcated and have patches.

  • Unpredictable rate of spread or enlargement of these patches.

  • Premature whitening or graying of the hair, light hair color.

  • Change in color inside the mouth and nose.

What Are the Risk Factors for Leucoderma?

Individuals should be more careful if they have one or more of the following:

  • Family history of vitiligo.

  • Autoimmune diseases like hyperthyroidism and some other hormonal disorders like diabetes, pernicious anemia, Addison's disease, etc.

  • Black moles surrounded by a rim of marble white-colored skin.

  • Graying of hairs with an early onset.

  • Doubtful or fresh lesions can be confirmed using special light (UV Light or Woods' lamp). Leucoderma patches get accentuated under such lighting.

How to Diagnose Leucoderma?

If the doctor suspects leucoderma's symptoms, the doctor might investigate the medical history and conduct a thorough examination of other related skin disorders, including dermatitis and psoriasis. The physician might also use a unique lamp to shine ultraviolet light into the skin to decide whether one has leucoderma or not. Under ultraviolet light, the leucoderma skin may appear as milky white. The doctor might again ask for a skin biopsy and blood test to diagnose leucoderma. Once the symptoms and causes of leucoderma have been determined, the doctor might recommend the required treatments or remedies.

What Is the Treatment for Leucoderma?

The main objective of leucoderma treatment is to correct the body's metabolism and improve the overall immune system. This will enhance the ability of pigmentation in the involved area. Most of the treatments for leucoderma might help rejuvenate the skin color. The effects of the treatment might differ from one person to another. Some of the standard therapies for leucoderma include:

  • Medications include creams for managing inflammation, medicines for improving the immunity system, and others.

  • Ointments like Tacrolimus and Pimecrolimus are effective for repigmentation of small skin areas.

  • Corticosteroids like Betamethasone valerate and Clobetasol propionate help restore color or aid repigmentation.

  • Therapies combine light therapy, psoralen, and removal of the remaining color, which is de-pigmentation.

Surgery includes:

  • Skin grafting is where a small part of the normally pigmented skin is eliminated and engrafted in the discolored areas).

  • Blister grafting where small blisters are formed in the normal pigmented area fixed on the affected area).

  • Micro-pigmentation where pigments are implanted into the skin through a particular surgical instrument in tattooing).

How Can One Cope With and Find Support for Vitiligo?

The changes in appearance due to vitiligo can trigger feelings of stress, self-consciousness, or sadness. The self-care strategies that aid in coping with vitiligo include:

  • Establish a strong connection. Seek out a knowledgeable doctor, particularly a dermatologist specializing in skin care.

  • Self-educate about the condition. Gather information about vitiligo and available treatment options to participate in decision-making about one's care.

  • Express emotions. Inform the doctor if the patient is experiencing depression, and consider seeking assistance from a mental health professional specializing in depression management.

  • Engage in conversations with others. Inquire about psychotherapy or local support groups catering to individuals with vitiligo.

  • Share the feelings with loved ones. Seek empathy and support from family and friends.

What Measures Can Be Taken to Prevent Worsening of Vitiligo?

Skin protection from the sun is crucial, as skin affected by vitiligo is prone to sunburn. Follow the recommendations listed below:

  • Seek shade, particularly when one’s shadow is shorter than they are.

  • Wear protective clothing that shields the skin from the sun.

  • Apply sunscreen daily, especially to exposed areas not covered by clothing, using a broad-spectrum, water-resistant, SPF (sun protection factor) 30 or higher sunscreen.

  • If someone has darker skin, consider using a tinted sunscreen to avoid a white cast.

  • Apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before going outside and reapply every two hours, after swimming, and when sweating to ensure adequate protection.

  • Avoid tanning beds and sun lamps as they can burn skin without pigment, exacerbating vitiligo.

  • Injuries to the skin can also trigger new patches, so take precautions.

  • To add color safely, consider using camouflage makeup, self-tanner, or skin dye.

What Are the Home Remedies for Leucoderma?

  • Applying mustard oil and turmeric paste.

  • Using honey juice and margosa leaves.

  • Improving the intake of zinc and copper.

  • Drinking a glass of neem juice is effective in treating leucoderma.

What Are the Factors That Increase the Risk of Treatment Difficulties?

  • Onset at a younger age.

  • Lesions on the lips and tips of fingers and toes.

  • Past treatment failures.

What Are the Complications of Vitiligo?

Complications of vitiligo may include:

  • Depression.

  • The sensitivity of the skin.

  • Skin cancer.

  • Loss of hearing

  • Painful sunburns

  • Production of the tear.

  • Inflammation of the iris.

  • Vision changes.

What Foods to Be Avoided in Leucoderma?

Patients with leucoderma should avoid highly antigenic foods like:

  • Fish.

  • Meat.

  • Eggs.


Vitiligo can greatly impact people's feelings because many cultures see skin color as important. This is especially true for people with darker skin, but everyone with vitiligo can feel upset because of it. Doctors need to understand how vitiligo affects people and how they feel about themselves and their quality of life. It is important for doctors to pay close attention to patients' mental health and help them understand that vitiligo is not just about looks. Treatment should focus on both improving skin color and assisting people to feel better emotionally.

Frequently Asked Questions


What Are the Causes of Leucoderma?

Leucoderma occurs due to several causes, they are:
1) Congenital abnormalities.
2) Autoimmune disorders.
3) Trauma.
4) Psoriasis.
5) Eczema.
6) Immunologic diseases.
- Vitiligo.
- Halo mole.
- Melanoma-associated leukoderma or vitiligo.
7) When exposed to butyl-phenol.
8) Intralesional steroid injections.
9) EGFR inhibitors.


Can Leucoderma Be Cured?

As of now, there is no cure for leucoderma, and it can be controlled with treatment options such as depigmentation of the skin and exposure to UVA and UVB light in severe cases. They sometimes go away on their own, and when it does not happen, doctors prescribe treatments to even out the skin tone.


Is Leucoderma and Vitiligo the Same?

Vitiligo is also known as leucoderma, where white patches develop on the skin as a result of decreased melanocytes within the skin. It is an autoimmune disorder where the body's immune system attacks the normal healthy cells, affecting the body.


Is Leucoderma Hereditary?

Leucoderma is not strictly associated with families, but at times it runs in families. It is said that more than 30% of people with this condition have a family history of leucoderma, suggesting that genetics play a major role.


What Is the Best Treatment for Leucoderma?

It is shown that corticosteroids are effective on small newly depigmented areas. It can also be used on the face; however, 57% of adult patients and 64% of childhood patients have shown effective results.


How Can Leucoderma Be Prevented?

There are very few ways to prevent leucoderma, where-
- Limiting sun exposure is the most effective way.
- Applying turmeric and mustard oil paste.
- Drinking lots of water with a copper cup as copper helps to prevent this condition.
- Taking a healthy amount of iron-rich foods cooked in a cast-iron skillet is also helpful.
- Zinc also helps us prevent leucoderma.
- Applying extracts of margosa leaves and honey.
- Practicing yoga.


Why Is Leucoderma Caused?

Leucoderma is caused due to loss of pigment-forming cells known as melanocytes resulting in white patches all over the skin. This is most commonly seen in dark-skinned individuals and found in all races equally.


Is Leucoderma Harmful to Humans?

The white spot disease "leucoderma" is harmful as it can result with-
- Sunburns.
- Loss of hearing.
- Vision changes.


What Is the Difference Between White Patches and Vitiligo?

Both can appear as a segmental or a focal patch and can be differentiated by the area of the spread. The white patches appear as a smaller segmental or focal patch in one or a few areas, where vitiligo appears in focal or segmental patches seen at a particular area on one side of the body.


Does Leucoderma Start Suddenly?

It starts suddenly with the development of white patches on the skin, mostly on the sun-exposed areas. Also, eyelashes, hair, and beard turn grey, along with loss of color in the retina of the eyes and mucosal membranes.
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Dr. Vinay Kumar
Dr. Vinay Kumar



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