Leucoderma (vitiligo) – symptoms and causes

Leucoderma causes and symptoms

Leucoderma is also known as vitiligo. This is a distressing skin condition. This word literally means white skin. In people who suffer from this condition, there is a gradual loss of the pigment melanin from the skin layers which results in white patches. These patches look very ugly, especially in people who have dark skin. Luecoderma does not cause any organic harm. You should know that this condition is not caused by any germs. It is due to bad blood. It is considered to be neither contagious nor infectious. This condition usually starts as small areas of pigment loss which spread and become larger with time. These changes in your skin can result in worries and stress about your appearance. There is no cure for this condition. We know that the melanin is the name of pigment which is responsible for the color of your skin. The goal of this treatment is to slow or stop the progression of depigmentation and if someone desires, attempt to return some color to your skin. [1]

Symptoms of leucoderma (vitiligo)

The main symptom of this condition is the pigment loss which is producing milky – white patches (it is also known as depigmentation) on your skin. But also there are other less common signs such as

  • Loss or change in color of the inner layer of your eye (retina)
  • Loss of the color in the tissues that line the inside of your mouth (mucous membranes)
  • Premature whitening or graying of the hair on your scalp, eyelashes, eyebrows or beard

Leucoderma causes and symptomsThis condition can start at any age, but often fist appear between the ages of 20 and 30 [2]. The white patches may begin on your face above your eyes or on your neck, knees, hands, genitalia, elbows and armpits. In the most cases these white patches are symmetrical and they can spread over your entire body. This condition can affect both men and women. Also it affects all races equally. Most people who suffer from leucoderma are otherwise healthy and they have normal skin texture and sensation. This condition can be more common in people who have certain autoimmune disease. These are diseases in which your immune system reacts against your body’s own tissues or organs such as hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, Vitamin B12 deficiency anemia (pernicious anemia) and Addison’s disease. The natural course of this condition is difficult to predict. In some cases these white patches stop forming without treatment.  But also there are other cases in which pigment loss can involve most of the surface of your skin. The main symptom of this condition is the white patches on your skin which are most common around the areas which are usually exposed to sun, such as lips, hands, arms and face. But also there are other causes such as loss of the color of the retina, loss of color of the mucosal membranes, gray eyelashes, beard and hair.

Causes of leucoderma

We know that our skin is composed of 3 layers – the subcutaneous tissues, the dermis and the epidermis. Epidermis is the outermost layer of our skin. Melanin is the pigment which determines the color of your skin, eyes and hair and it is produced in the epidermis. Melanin provides the coloring of your skin and it can help you to protect your skin from damage from UV light. People of all races are born approximately with the same number of melanocytes – pigment cells. The rate at which melanin granules are formed in the melanocytes and their concentration in the epidermis are inherited characteristics and the major factors in the skin color differences [3]. When no melanin is produced, then the involved patch of skin becomes white. When the white patch spreads or grows, then the cause can be leucoderma. The exact cause of leucoderma is not known. Scientists and doctors have different theories about what is the cause for leucoderma. Leucoderma can be due to an immune system disorder [4]. Heredity can be a factor for the leucoderma because there is an increased incidence of leucoderma in some families [3,4]. There are some people who have said that a single event such as emotional distress or sunburn can trigger this condition [5]. But none of the mentioned theories has been proved to be a definite cause for the leucoderma.


[1] Spritz RA. Modern vitiligo genetics sheds new light on an ancient disease. Journal of Dermatology. 2013;40(5):10.

[2] Rahman R, Hasija Y. Exploring vitiligo susceptibility and management: a brief review. Biomedical Dermatology. 2018.

[3] University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Genes related to vitiligo identified. Science Daily. 2016. Retrieved from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/10/161010135929.htm

[4] National Institutes of Health. Scientists implicate gene in vitiligo and other autoimmune diseases. 2017. Retrieved from www.nih.gov/

[5] Henning SW, Jaishankar D, Barse LW, et al. The relationship between stress and vitiligo: Evaluating perceived stress and electronic medical record data. Plos One. 2020.


  1. Most commonly, however, is hyperpigmentation which occurs while on an section of
    the body as being a reply to the location where the skin continues to be injured or traumatized by
    scrape, cut, crush, or burn. Citrus fruits like oranges and lemons can hinder the creation of melanin. First, a
    preparation (Skin – Prep FX) is applied to lessen blemishes, smooth skin and facilitate blending.


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