Vitiligo is a rare skin disorder affecting only 0.5 to 1% of the world’s population. The disorder is characterized by white patches on the skin, which are caused by the breakdown of melanocytes, skin cells that produce melanin pigment. While scientists aren’t sure of the exact cause, the disorder likely has a genetic link, meaning that those who suffer from the disorder probably inherited faulty copies of certain genes from their parents that contribute to its onset. However, it is important to note that there is no definitive familial pattern. Vitiligo is thought to be an autoimmune condition, like hyperthyroidism or pernicious anemia, and those with previously existing autoimmune diseases are more likely to develop the disorder.¹ According to CNN, Michael Jackson is one public figure who suffered from the condition.

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If you’ve read our previous post, you’ll know that tanning occurs when melanocytes transfer melanin to another type of skin cell called keratinocytes. Since vitiligo patients have patches of skin devoid of melanocytes, they are not able to tan in these regions. Tanning, while an indicator of sun damage itself, does offer minimal protection against future sunburn. This means that those with vitiligo are more susceptible to sunburn and more serious sun-induced skin damage, like skin cancer, in depigmented regions of their skin.
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Sun protection is undoubtedly important for those with the disorder, especially if depigmented patches are present on sun-exposed regions of the skin. Not only will sun protection help to reduce the risk of sunburn and future skin damage on sun-exposed depigmented patches, it will also prevent pigmented skin from darkening, which can emphasize the contrast between pigmented and depigmented regions of skin.¹

The Latest Sun Protection Tech For People With Vitiligo
If you have vitiligo, you must take extra precaution to protect depigmented patches on sun-exposed regions of the skin. Not only is proper sun protection essential for depigmented skin due to greater vulnerability to sun damage, it is essential for pigmented regions of the skin to prevent further contrast caused by darkening of the skin. Sun Index allows skin type personalization that is essential for people with vitiligo. Sun Index provides personalized sun safety advice from different sun damage prevention methods to when and how much to apply and reapply sunscreen.

  1. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. (2014). Questions and Answers about Vitiligo. Retrieved January 5, 2017