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When skin develops white patches, this skin lightening condition is called vitiligo. It can happen to any part of the body, leaving white patches behind in its wake. Vitiligo is caused when pigment is lost from the skin thanks to the destruction of melanocytes, the cells in your skin that form pigment.

Experts theorize that the immune system is destroying the cells just as it does with other autoimmune conditions. It affects every race equally, and currently affects between two and five million Americans. Most often it, develops somewhere between the ages of 10 and 30. If it runs in your family, you stand a much higher chance for developing it.

Look out for symptoms like a rapid loss of pigment on several different areas of your skin. Typically, the first appearance of white patches will not progress for quite some time. But as time wears on, more pigment loss will usually take place. You’ll commonly find it affecting areas of the skin that receive the most sun exposure, in areas that are folded such as armpits, near moles, or close to body openings. Once the white patches come in, it’s not likely the pigment will return to that area.

If you have vitiligo, your doctor can diagnose it, however there is no way to prevent it or cure it. The best you can do is find skincare products that help blend the skin and improve it so the condition will be less noticeable.

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