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