Vitiligo is an autoimmune disorder that causes patches of skin to lose pigmentation or color. This occurs because the skin cells that are used to make pigmentation are attacked and destroyed, resulting in a white color. With vitiligo you are at an increased risk of sunburn, so it’s important to visit your doctor and get a good SPF sunscreen to protect your skin. Your dermatologist may also recommend various lotions, creams, medications like Ruxolitinib (Opzelura), and other treatments to consider to help with the disorder. The following points will describe early signs of vitiligo that you can watch out for:
1. Pale patches of skin
Signs of vitiligo will start with a small, pale patch of skin that will gradually turn completely white and get bigger over time. The edges of the patch can be smooth or irregular and may become red and irritated.
2. Discolored patches in mouth and nose
Not only does vitiligo affect the skin on the surface of your body, it can also impact mucus membranes such as your mouth and nose with patches of discoloration.
3. Easily sunburnt
The patches where vitiligo is present are more sensitive and easily sunburnt than unaffected areas of skin. It’s important to lather up on sun protection as sunburns can also trigger vitiligo and cause it to spread further.
4. Itchy patches of skin
While vitiligo for the most part does not cause any discomfort, it is possible to experience some itchiness of the patches when they are actively spreading. Make sure to talk to your healthcare provider about this to see if there are any relief creams they can prescribe to soothe the skin.
5. Hair turning white or gray
With vitiligo, it is possible for premature graying of the hair due to a patch on the scalp that causes the hair in the area to also lose its color, thus turning it white or gray. This can also happen to eyelashes and eyebrows if the patches are in the same area.
6. Impacted hearing
While not necessarily an early sign of vitiligo, people with the autoimmune disorder are at higher risk of hearing loss. If the skin cells in the inner ear get attacked, patients will experience hearing loss or impairment.