Having a skin with different color patches (vitiligo) is devastating and stressful as far as trying to eliminate them is concerned, but dermatologists say with the right medication, the condition can be cured.

What is it vitiligo?

Francoise Gahongayire, a dermatologist at King Faisal Hospital, Kigali, says vitiligo is a condition where by one develops white patches on their skin. It’s an autoimmune disease which most of the time is genetic and can appear on any area of the body.

According to her, vitiligo is caused by the loss of pigment in the skin known as melanin. This pigment is the one that is responsible for giving the skin its characteristic colour.

“This comes about because of the destruction of the pigment-forming cells called melanocytes. Although vitiligo affects all races equally, it is more noticeable in dark-skinned people,” she says.

Similarly, Rachna Pande, an internal medicine specialist, says vitiligo is a condition where white patches appear on the skin, giving one a discoloured look.

“It can occur at any age or any part of the body. Africans are said to be more vulnerable to this condition. In some, few patches or a single patch appears and remains for life. In others, it progresses from the affected body part and new patches appear in different parts, giving an ungainly look to the face and limbs,” she says.