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The exact cause for the pigment disorder remains unknown. However, there are theories suggesting a. autoimmune link, b. hormonal connection, c. genetic tendencies, etc.

The familial incidence  of 20 to 30% is observed in the family members. If one or more of the parents have vitiligo, there are more chances of one developing the same. However, it is not a rule. At the same time, numerous cases of vitiligo do not have a relevant family history of Vitiligo.

We have made an important observation through a study that most patients with vitiligo has one of the family members (father, mother, grand parents on either side, uncle, aunt or siblings) suffering from one or more of the following diseases: Vitiligo, hypothyroid, diabetes, alopecia areata,  cancer or any other auto-immune disease.

A study at our center also shows that the patients who have either extensive vitiligo or those developing vitiligo spots on both sides of body (bilateral symmetrical) have a strong genetic element. 


The precipitating factors have been identified as due to pressure of tight clothes (such as on the waist) or certain occupational hazards such as wearing certain rubber hand gloves. Long term intake of certain drugs is found to produce this pigment disorder. In many cases, especially in children, we often have no clue why one develops vitiligo.

All said and done, there is definitely an abnormal process of melanocytes destruction, governed by known or unknown factors.

It may be noted that some of the above remarks are based on our study of over 2000 cases and they may not be found in the standard dermatological text books. 

Like many disease conditions, the exact causation yet remains a mystery!

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