Vitiligo, an acquired pigmentary disorder of unknown origin, is the most frequent cause of depigmentation worldwide, with an estimated prevalence of 1%. The disorder can be psychologically devastating and stigmatising, especially in dark skinned individuals. Vitiligo is clinically characterised by the development of white macules due to the loss of functioning melanocytes in the skin or hair, or both. Two forms of the disease are well recognised: segmental and non-segmental vitiligo (the commonest form). To distinguish between these two forms is of prime importance because therapeutic options and prognosis are quite different. The importance of early treatment and understanding of the profound psychosocial effect of vitiligo will be emphasised throughout this Seminar.
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