Diagnosing Vitiligo

Learn what strategies dermatologists can use to determine if a patient has vitiligo.

So you are wondering…

Is it vitiligo?

  • Woods Lamp

     

    Wood’s Lamp

    The medical professional may look at your skin using a special light called a Wood’s Lamp. The light shines UV light on your skin and allows your medical professional to look at your skin under magnification and UV light.

  • Skin Biopsy

    Skin Biopsy

    A skin biopsy is a procedure to remove cells or skin samples from your body for laboratory examination. A doctor uses a skin biopsy to diagnose skin conditions and remove abnormal tissue.

    The two main types of skin biopsies for vitiligo testing:

    Shave biopsy. A doctor uses a tool similar to a razor to remove a small section of the top layers of skin (epidermis and a portion of the dermis).

    Punch biopsy. A doctor uses a circular tool to remove a small core of skin, including deeper layers (epidermis, dermis and superficial fat).

    Mayo Clinic. Skin Biopsy: Overview.  Retrieved April 7, 2021 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/skin-biopsy/about/pac-20384634.

     

    Skin Biopsy

  • Blood Tests

     

    Blood Tests

    Depending on the type of vitiligo diagnosed, a doctor may order blood tests or evaluations for other conditions related to vitiligo. Many people with vitiligo are otherwise healthy, but some types of vitiligo can be associated with a higher risk for thyroid problems and various autoimmune conditions.

    If you are diagnosed with generalized vitiligo, the doctor may also recommend visits to an ophthalmologist (eye specialist) or audiologist (hearing specialist). Melanocytes are found in the eyes and inner ears as well as the skin, and cells in these areas can be impacted by vitiligo too.

    MyVitiligoTeam. Vitiligo The Path to Diagnosis. Retrieved on April 7, 2021 from. https://www.myvitiligoteam.com/resources/vitiligo-the-path-to-diagnosis.

  • Is It Something Else?

    Is It Something Else?

    Vitiligo isn’t the only possible cause of skin depigmentation. The process of ruling out similar conditions is referred to as differential diagnosis.

    Other possible causes of skin discoloration include:

    • Infections such as tinea versicolor, a common fungal infection
    • Skin exposure to certain chemicals
    • Scarring
    • Eczema
    • Melanoma, a type of skin cancer

    Your doctor may be able to rule many of these conditions quickly based on a visual exam, your medical and family history, or simple blood tests.

    MyVitiligoTeam. Vitiligo The Path to Diagnosis. Retrieved on April 7, 2021 from. https://www.myvitiligoteam.com/resources/vitiligo-the-path-to-diagnosis.

     

    Is It Something Else?

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