Vitiligo is a condition in which the skin loses its color or pigmentation, leaving patches that appear lighter. This condition may also affect color of the hair and eyes.

The Mount Sinai Department of Dermatology is leading the field in groundbreaking vitiligo research and treatment, offering patients innovative therapies through clinical trials that are unavailable anywhere else. Our specialists understand the daily challenges that vitiligo can cause, including depression and low self-esteem, and we are committed to developing new therapies to achieve life-changing outcomes for patients of all ages and skin types.

Causes of Vitiligo

While the exact cause of vitiligo is unknown, this condition develops when the immune system destroys cells called melanocytes, which are responsible for producing skin pigmentation. Vitiligo may develop at any age.

Your chances of having vitiligo are increased if you have a family member with the condition, or if you have an autoimmune condition, such as a thyroid disease called Hashimoto’s disease or a hair loss condition called alopecia areata.

Symptoms of Vitiligo

Vitiligo causes loss of skin color, which may occur throughout the body, including the face, elbows and knees, hands and feet, and genitals. It may also affect the hair and inside of the mouth. Although many people do not experience other symptoms, some patients complain of an associated itch in the lesions.

Treatments for Vitiligo

Mount Sinai’s Department of Dermatology is responsible for the development of some of the safest and most effective therapies for a range of skin conditions, including vitiligo. Our team was the first to introduce the off label uses of oral phosphodiesterase inhibitors for the treatment of vitiligo. A worldwide leader in clinical trials for vitiligo, we are currently conducting studies on Janus kinase inhibitors. As a result of this active research program, Mount Sinai patients have access to promising new treatments not available elsewhere.

We also offer specialized clinical trials and services specific to vitiligo.

In addition to offering clinical trials, our specialists are skilled in providing the full range of treatments for vitiligo, which we personalize to your unique needs. These treatments are designed to restore pigmentation, and include the following:

  • Topical medications, such as corticosteroid and immunosuppressant creams and ointments
  • Phototherapy or light therapy (for widespread vitiligo)  
  • Excimer laser treatment (for small areas of vitiligo)