Is Vitiligo Bad for Health?

vitiligo phototherapy lampSome people wonder, “Is vitiligo bad for health?” Generally, people with vitiligo do not need to worry about developing serious complications. All the same, it is important to consult a dermatologist who specializes on vitiligo.

People with vitiligo have a higher risk of getting some other medical conditions.

Anxiety and Depression

Many people who have vitiligo feel anxious and embarrassed around others because other people tend to stare and make rude remarks about their skin or appearance. These negative reactions from others can take a toll on one’s self-image. They develop low self-esteem, which usually leads to depression.

If you have anxiety or depression as a result of having vitiligo, your dermatologist may be able to refer you to someone who can help.

Eye Problems

Some people with vitiligo experience abnormal tear production and changes in their vision. Let your dermatologist know if you develop these symptoms so they can refer you to an ophthalmologist. Eye issues are best treated early to avoid serious eye problems.

Hearing Loss

The inner ear has melanocytes, which are cells that give our skin and other parts of the body colour. If the body assaults these cells in the ear, hearing loss can occur. According to studies, up to 38% of people with vitiligo suffer from hearing loss.


Vitiligo can cause painful sunburns on the skin that has lost colour. A dermatologist can make a customised plan to help avoid severe sunburn. The plan may include the use of sunscreen that is compatible with the person’s skin, as well as the wearing of sun protective clothing.


Testing for Vitiligo

To diagnose if your condition is vitiligo, your dermatologist would perform a physical exam, check your medical history, and conduct laboratory tests. Make sure to inform your dermatologist of any contributing factors such as existing autoimmune diseases, premature graying of hair, or recent sunburns. Additionally, tell your doctor if anyone else in your family has vitiligo or other skin diseases.

Your dermatologist may also use an ultraviolet lamp to look for patches of vitiligo. Also referred to as Wood’s lamp, it helps your doctor determine if it is vitiligo or another skin condition.

A sample of your skin may also be taken for biopsy. Skin biopsies could show if you still have pigment-producing cells in that area of your body. Blood tests could help diagnose other health problems associated with vitiligo such as anemia, diabetes, or thyroid problems.