Do you notice small, light-colored patches on your arms, legs, or other areas of your skin? If so, you may have a rare skin condition called vitiligo, which is responsible for the skin losing its melanin. The first thing you need to do is see a dermatologist to evaluate your condition, because it can spread over time. In addition, there are many other conditions that can lead to skin lightening.

Certain treatments may help vitiligo; however, it cannot be cured. Melanin is the pigment responsible for your skin, hair, and eye color. When you have vitiligo, the cells that produce your melanin no longer function, which causes white patches to appear on your skin. This is considered an autoimmune disorder because a person’s immune system attacks and then destroys the pigmentation in the cells. Genetics plays a role in the predisposition to vitiligo. In addition, a bad sunburn and emotional distress can trigger the condition as well.

Vitiligo first shows up as white patches on the skin and is primarily found in areas exposed to the sun. However, any other part of the body may also be affected. It is difficult to predict how the disorder will spread. Sometimes it may even involve a majority of the skin.

A physical exam by a dermatologist usually involves using a special UV light to rule out other skin disorders. In addition, you may need a biopsy and blood test to check for other medical issues. While diagnosing the disease is fairly easy, treatment can be challenging. There are some therapies that may restore some of the skin’s pigmentation. For example, corticosteroid creams that control inflammation can be helpful and usually work best in early stages. Since vitiligo is triggered by a malfunctioning immune system, medications that target it are also used to treat the disorder. Topical ointments that contain calcineurin inhibitors, such as tacrolimus or pimecrolimus, can be effective for small areas of light patches on the face and neck. UV light therapy may also help restore color to the affected areas. However, to be beneficial, the treatments usually need to be done repeatedly for a year.

Fortunately, with improved technology in makeup, there are many waterproof foundations and concealers available to minimize the problem. In order to neutralize the light patches of skin you will need to work with two different color foundations and concealers, using techniques of both light and dark shades to camouflage the problem.

Risselle Naimark is a Professional Freelance Makeup Artist and Skincare Consultant. She carries an extensive line of personalized skincare, cosmetics, and anti-aging products. Risselle is also available for weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, makeup lessons, and all of your beauty needs. She can be reached at 718 263-5517.