Medical history and exam
If your doctor suspects you have vitiligo, he or she will ask about your medical history and examine you. Important factors in your medical history include:
- A family history of vitiligo or an autoimmune disease
- A personal history of sun sensitivity or other skin conditions
- A rash, sunburn or other skin trauma within two to three months of the start of pigment loss
- A history of melanoma or multiple, atypical moles
- Premature graying of the hair (before age 35)
- Stress or physical illness
Your doctor will also examine you to rule out other medical problems or skin conditions, such as dermatitis or psoriasis. He or she may use a device called a Woods lamp, which shines ultraviolet (UV) light onto the skin, to determine whether you have vitiligo.
Skin biopsy and blood draw
In addition to gathering your personal and family medical history and examining your skin, your doctor may also:
- Take a small sample (biopsy) of your affected skin
- Draw blood to check your blood cell count, thyroid function and to look for the presence of anti-nuclear antibodies (a type of autoantibody) that would indicate an autoimmune disease
Additionally, your doctor may recommend that you see an eye specialist (ophthalmologist) for an eye examination to check for inflammation in your eye (uveitis).
Apr. 21, 2011
- Goldstein BG, et al. Vitiligo. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Jan. 25, 2011.
- Vitiligo. American Academy of Dermatology. http://www.aad.org/public/publications/pamphlets/common_vitilgo.html. Accessed Feb. 8, 2011.
- 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 Feb. 8, 2011.
- Tahir MA, et al. Current remedies for vitiligo. Autoimmunity Reviews. 2010;9:516.
- Whitton ME, et al. Interventions for vitiligo (review). Cochrane Database of Systemic Reviews. 2010:CD7. http://www.thecochranelibrary.com. Accessed Feb. 8, 2011.
- Gawkrodger DJ, et al. Vitiligo: Concise evidence based guidelines on diagnosis and management. Postgraduate Medical Journal. 2010;86:466.