Does vitiligo get worse with sun exposure?

Patients that have received a diagnosis of vitiligo from their dermatologist may be confused as to what the condition is, why it occurs, and how to manage it. Vitiligo is best described as a skin coloration disorder that results in white patches on the skin. Patients of any age, any race, and any gender can develop vitiligo at any time.

Symptoms of vitiligo

The most common symptom of vitiligo is a lightening of the skin in patches on the skin of the face or body. While most patients will see vitiligo appear on areas of the face and body where the most sun exposure occurs, others may notice that they develop the condition on covered areas and unexposed parts of the body such as the genitals. Symptoms also include:

  • White hair on the areas of the skin that are impacted
  • Early onset of white or gray hair, typically before the age of 35
  • White facial hair, including eyebrows, eyelashes, mustache and beard
  • White patches in the mouth

It is unknown what causes vitiligo to occur, but living with it requires patients to take additional steps to protect their skin, especially to sun exposure.

How does the sun impact those with vitiligo?

While the condition itself is not medically harmful, it can have certain effects on patients who are diagnosed, including mental and emotional changes. Coping with the condition and its outward appearance can be assisted with a support group or individual counseling. Additionally, patients with this condition need to pay close attention to protecting their skin from the sun, especially as the white patches of the skin are extra sensitive. Patients who do not use sunscreen daily and experience excessive sun exposure may be putting themselves at risk for sunburn and skin cancer. Vitiligo patients should be mindful of the time they spend outdoors, proactively protect their skin, and avoid tanning beds. Vitiligo does not get worse with sun exposure, but it can increase the risk of other problems, making it vital that patients pay close attention to the time spent outdoors and exposure to UVA and UVB rays.

Request time with Dr. Francisco Kerdel to learn more about living with vitiligo

Vitiligo is a condition that can impact a patient for the rest of their lives. If you have been diagnosed with vitiligo and want to learn more about how to care and protect your skin, contact the team at Florida Academic Dermatology Center in Coral Gables, FL at (305) 324-2110. Both new and current patients can connect with our facility for an appointment to learn more about this and other dermatological conditions that may require the assistance of a medical professional.

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