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November 1979

Vitiligo: Clinical Picture and Pathogenesis

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Dermatology, Ochsner Medical Institutions, New Orleans.

Arch Intern Med. 1979;139(11):1295-1297. doi:10.1001/archinte.1979.03630480069021

Vitiligo is an acquired, disfiguring skin disease characterized by the loss of melanin, which results in depigmented areas of the skin. It affects at least 1% of the world's population.1 The term "vitiligo," derived from the Latin word vitelius, which means calf, was first used by the Roman physician Celsus in the second century AD and refers to the distinguishing white spots of the disease that resemble the white patches of a calf.1

Clinically, vitiligo consists of macular areas of milkwhite depigmentation that may be round, oval, or irregularly shaped. The border of vitiliginous lesions may be hyperpigmented, and the lesions may vary greatly in size. They are usually bilateral but not necessarily symmetrical. The most commonly affected sites are the exposed areas of the body (face, upper part of the chest, dorsal aspects of the hands), the body folds (axillae and groin), the areas around orifices (eyes,