Vitiligo Causes, Signs & Symptoms

What is Vitiligo?

Vitiligo is a disease that leads to the irregular whitening of skin or loss of skin colour in people.  Some people may only experience a few white spots while in others the discolouration can spread or even extend to cover most of the skin surface in severe cases.

How the disease will act and progress in individuals is unpredictable. Apart from skin, loss of colour can also affect hairs, lips and the insides of the mouth.

The disease is due to loss of melanocytes, which are pigment cells in the skin responsible for producing its natural colour. Loss of such cells leads to loss of skin colour and hence the whitening effect.

This disease is not life threatening or contagious.  There is often no other symptom apart from loss of skin or hair colour.  Although some people with vitiligo may also have other autoimmune or congenital diseases at the same time which may warrant further treatment.

Irregular and progressive loss of skin colour can be disfiguring and distressful to individuals with vitiligo owing to social stigmatisation.

Fortunately there are effective medical treatments to halt disease progression and restore skin colour. These include oral medicines, medicated creams, ultraviolet light therapy, phototherapy and surgery.  Such treatments allow vitiligo patients to regain back their skin colour, thereby improve their appearance and help boost their confidence in life.

Although treatment may restore colour to affected skin, it does not prevent recurrence or continued loss of skin colour because there is currently no permanent cure for vitiligo.

Signs & Symptoms of Vitiligo

Signs & Symptoms

White patches on the skin usually appear first on sun exposed parts of the body such as the face, neck, hands and feet.

They vary in size from a few millimetres to many centimetres and usually have convex borders well-demarcated from surrounding normal skin. 

They are not known to be itchy or painful. Texture of the discoloured skin appears and feels like normal skin. Hairs within the affected skin may also become white. Discolouration can also happen inside the mouth and the inner pigment layer of the eyeball.

Vision is usually not affected.

Vitiligo can be classified into the following types, depending on the extent and progression of discolouration.


  1. Generalised Vitiligo – The most common type of vitiligo. It affects many body parts, are randomly distributed and often progresses similarly in all affected areas. 
  2. Segmental Vitiligo – Affects only one side or part of the body, It tends to occur at a younger age and remain stable after 1-2 years of progression.
  3. Localised (focal) Vitiligo – Affects a small area of the body.

Vitiligo can start at any age and can affect any body surface. 

Progression of the disease is often unpredictable. Once affected, the skin rarely regains its colour without treatment.

If you suspect that you may have vitiligo, it is important for you to see a doctor for proper checkup and diagnosis as there are many other conditions and illnesses that can have similar symptoms to vitiligo.


Vitiligo, Psoriasis & Skin Clinic by DTAP provides comprehensive treatment and management for Vitiligo and other skin conditions.

Vitiligo is treatable and requires careful and a thorough examination to find out the cause and accurately classify Vitiligo before deciding on an appropriate treatment plan.


Scotts Medical Center (Pacific Plaza)
9 Scotts Road, #06-06
Singapore 228210

Telephone:+65 6694 2348

Message:+65 8922 0083 


Operating Hours

Monday to Friday:
9:00 AM – 1:00 PM
2:00 PM – 6:00 PM

Saturday: 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM

Closed on Sunday & Public Holidays

Nearest MRT Station:
Orchard MRT Station

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Other Skin Conditions We Treat


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