You're likely to start by seeing your primary care doctor. You may then be referred to a specialist in skin disorders (dermatologist).
Here's some information to help you prepare for your appointment.
What you can do
- Review your family medical history. Find out if anyone in your family has vitiligo, a thyroid condition or a disease in which the immune system attacks healthy tissues in the body (autoimmune disease).
- List relevant personal information, such as recent major stressful events, life changes, sunburns and rashes.
- List any medications, vitamins and supplements you're taking.
- Make note of questions you'd like to ask your doctor, which will help you make the most of your limited time together.
Don't hesitate to ask your doctor anything about your condition. Some basic questions to consider include:
- What's the most likely cause of my symptoms?
- What are other possible causes?
- Do I need any tests?
- Is this condition temporary or long lasting?
- What treatments are available, and which do you recommend?
- What side effects can I expect from treatment?
- Can I do anything to help, such as avoid the sun at certain times or wear a specific sunscreen?
- Can you recommend a product to conceal the discolored patches?
- Do you have brochures or other printed material I can take home? What websites do you recommend?
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a few questions, such as:
- When did you begin noticing light patches on your skin?
- Did you have a sunburn or skin rash before you noticed the patches?
- Are you sensitive to the sun?
- Do the discolored patches itch or cause any other symptoms?
- Have you ever had this type of change before?
- Does anyone in your family have vitiligo, a thyroid condition or an autoimmune disease?
- What is your occupation, and what are your hobbies? Are you exposed to any harsh chemicals in either?
- Does this condition affect your quality of life?
What you can do in the meantime
While you're waiting to see the doctor, limit your sun exposure and use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. If you're feeling self-conscious about the changes in your skin, use makeup or a self-tanning product to cover the affected areas.
May 15, 2014
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- Fleissig E, et al. Risk of sensorineural hearing loss in patients with vitiligo. Audiology and Neurotology. 2013;18:240.
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- Valle Y, et al. Multidisciplinary approach to R&D in vitiligo, a neglected skin disease. Dermatologic Therapy 2013;25(suppl):1
- AskMayoExpert. Vitiligo (adult and pediatric). Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2013.
- Vitiligo. American Academy of Dermatology. http://www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/diseases-and-treatments/u---w/vitiligo. Accessed Dec. 20, 2013.
- Questions and answers about vitiligo. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Vitiligo/default.asp. Accessed Dec. 20, 2013.
- FDA sheds light on sunscreens. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm258416.htm. Accessed Jan. 2, 2014.
- American Academy of Dermatology. http://www.aad.org/media-resources/stats-and-facts/prevention-and-care/sunscreens#.UbdQaJzm9lP. Accessed Jan. 6, 2014.
- Calcipotriene. Micromedex 2.0 Healthcare Series. http://www.micromedexsolutions.com. Accessed Jan. 6, 2014.