If you notice patches of unpigmented (stark white) skin developing, especially on the hands or face, this may be a sign of vitiligo. Vitiligo is a relatively common condition that results in the loss of pigment. While treatment is not always necessary, a dermatologist like Dr. Damstetter can help you slow the progression of the condition or restore a more even skin tone.

What is Vitiligo?

Vitiligo is a skin condition that causes a loss of pigment. This causes discolored, lightened patches of skin which can affect virtually any area of the skin or hair. Vitiligo is relatively common and more noticeable in those with tan or darker skin tones, though it can affect patients of any skin tone. There are two primary types of vitiligo: non-segmental, which causes discolored patches on both sides of the body, and segmental, which causes asymmetric and in some cases solitary discolored patches.

What Causes Vitiligo?

Vitiligo is caused when the melanocytes, or pigment-producing skin cells, stop producing melanin (pigment) in response to injury caused by an overactive immune system. While it is unclear why exactly this occurs, the condition is believed to be hereditary as it runs in families. Vitiligo is also more common among those who have autoimmune conditions and can occur after a trigger event that causes damage to the skin, such as a severe burn or trauma.


“I had a recent visit to Dr Damstetter’s clinic and would like to share my experience. I am a Navy vet(corpsman) and usually get seen at the VA but since we don’t have a Derm provider right now, I was fortunately sent out to her clinic to be evaluated. It’s a nice clinic in a nice area and was relatively easy to find. A pleasant Ms. Nancy at the front desk was helpful in completing the check-in process. Easy day. I did not have to wait long and was soon met by Dr. Damstetter’s assistant, who for classified reasons I will refer to as “Agent 8”. I am sure if she gets tired of providing excellent medical care, her slick-ninja skillset could get her a job with the CIA or MI6 maybe. Short story long, Agent 8 brought me back to the patient area, where I was introduced to Dr Damstetter, who was all the things you would want in a doctor: a knowledgeable provider with a great bedside manner. She gave me a thorough exam which did end up showing that I needed a minor procedure. No worries. I felt well taken care of throughout my visit. No one likes to have to see the doctor, but if you have a dermatological concern, this is a good place with good people who did great by me, and I am thankful to have been sent here.”

“Dr. Liz is truly the best dermatologist I’ve ever been to. She is attentive, kind, and genuinely cares about her patients and their overall skin health. I can not recommend her enough!!!”

“Wonderful experience here! The doctor took the time to educate me on a variety of cosmetic options and gave her candid opinion resulting in just the right amount of cosmetic adjustments! Her staff was delightful and attentive! I would highly recommend for general derm needs and cosmetic adjustments.”

“Dr. Damstetter was the first dermatologist I trusted to do my Botox. She is both knowledgeable and professional and did a fantastic job. I will be using her for any and all of my future needs.”

Vitiligo Symptoms

The primary symptom of vitiligo is the loss of pigment within the skin causing white patches. These can occur virtually anywhere on the body and most commonly first appear on the hands, face, or genitals. In addition, pigmentation loss from vitiligo can affect the hair or mucous membranes, such as the tissues lining the inside of the mouth or nose. While not typically harmful to your health, vitiligo can also cause an increased risk of sunburn, and in extremely rare cases, is associated with hearing loss or eye problems. Finally, many patients may feel self-conscious of the appearance of the white patches.

Liz Damstetter, MD

Board-Certified Dermatologist

Meet the Doctor

Vitiligo Treatment Options

Not all patients with vitiligo will require treatment, as the condition is not typically harmful to your health. However, you can choose to undergo various treatment options to restore a more even skin tone if you are unhappy with the appearance of your vitiligo.

In the early stages, topical corticosteroids and calcineurin inhibitors can restore pigment for some patients. This works by reducing inflammation and subsequent damage to the skin cells. Occasionally oral steroids are given in brief doses to minimize widespread inflammation.

Because vitiligo is associated with autoimmune disorders, some patients also benefit from medications compounded by Dr. Damstetter that include a class of medications known as JAK inhibitors.

Light therapy can also be beneficial in slowing the progression of vitiligo. This is often performed in combination with topical corticosteroids, calcineurin inhibitors, or JAK inhibitors.

If vitiligo is widespread, then chemical depigmentation, or removing the remaining pigmentation, is also an option. This involves applying a depigmenting agent to the unaffected areas of skin to create a more even skin tone by matching the unpigmented areas. This is rarely necessary but can be done based on patient preference.

Schedule an Appointment

To learn more about vitiligo, schedule an appointment with Dr. Damstetter. Call Reserve Dermatology in Glenview, Illinois or contact us online.

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