Preparing for your appointment

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, including doses.
  • Make note of questions you'd like to ask your doctor, which will help you make the most of your limited time together.

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.