Rare Rheumatology News

Disease Profile


Prevalence estimates on Rare Medical Network websites are calculated based on data available from numerous sources, including US and European government statistics, the NIH, Orphanet, and published epidemiologic studies. Rare disease population data is recognized to be highly variable, and based on a wide variety of source data and methodologies, so the prevalence data on this site should be assumed to be estimated and cannot be considered to be absolutely correct.


US Estimated

Europe Estimated

Age of onset





Autosomal dominant A pathogenic variant in only one gene copy in each cell is sufficient to cause an autosomal dominant disease.


Autosomal recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of each gene of the chromosome are needed to cause an autosomal recessive disease and observe the mutant phenotype.


dominant X-linked dominant inheritance, sometimes referred to as X-linked dominance, is a mode of genetic inheritance by which a dominant gene is carried on the X chromosome.


recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of a gene on the X chromosome cause an X-linked recessive disorder.


Mitochondrial or multigenic Mitochondrial genetic disorders can be caused by changes (mutations) in either the mitochondrial DNA or nuclear DNA that lead to dysfunction of the mitochondria and inadequate production of energy.


Multigenic or multifactor Inheritance involving many factors, of which at least one is genetic but none is of overwhelming importance, as in the causation of a disease by multiple genetic and environmental factors.


Not applicable



Skin Diseases


Vitiligo is a relatively common pigmentation disorder in which the skin's pigment-making cells (melanocytes) are lost or destroyed. As a result, well-defined white patches appear on the skin. Patches may occur on one section or all over the body and may join together (coalesce).[1] Some people also have loss of pigment in patches of hair on the head or body. Vitiligo tends to continue over time, causing larger areas of skin to lose pigment. It may begin at any age but the average age of onset is in the mid-twenties.[2] Vitiligo does not affect physical health, but concerns about appearance and ethnic identity can lead to serious psychological, social, and emotional difficulties, significantly impacting quality of life.[1][3][2]

The specific cause of vitiligo is not known. Many people with vitiligo also have a personal or family history of autoimmune disease, suggesting that vitiligo has an autoimmune cause. It sometimes "runs in families," suggesting that genetics may play a role. People with vitiligo often report that its onset was related to a specific triggering event, such as injury, illness, sunburn, emotional stress, or pregnancy. However, there are currently no data supporting that these factors cause vitiligo.[1]

There is no cure for vitiligo, but available treatments may stop its progression and induce varying degrees of re-pigmentation. Treatment options vary depending on severity and preference and may include topical, systemic, and/or light-based therapies. A combination of therapies is usually more effective than a single therapy. Despite the availability of treatment, the course of the condition and response to treatment are unpredictable.[3]


This table lists symptoms that people with this disease may have. For most diseases, symptoms will vary from person to person. People with the same disease may not have all the symptoms listed. This information comes from a database called the Human Phenotype Ontology (HPO) . The HPO collects information on symptoms that have been described in medical resources. The HPO is updated regularly. Use the HPO ID to access more in-depth information about a symptom.

Medical Terms Other Names
Learn More:
Percent of people who have these symptoms is not available through HPO
Autosomal recessive inheritance
Blotchy loss of skin color


Support and advocacy groups can help you connect with other patients and families, and they can provide valuable services. Many develop patient-centered information and are the driving force behind research for better treatments and possible cures. They can direct you to research, resources, and services. Many organizations also have experts who serve as medical advisors or provide lists of doctors/clinics. Visit the group’s website or contact them to learn about the services they offer. Inclusion on this list is not an endorsement by GARD.

Organizations Supporting this Disease

    Organizations Providing General Support

      Learn more

      These resources provide more information about this condition or associated symptoms. The in-depth resources contain medical and scientific language that may be hard to understand. You may want to review these resources with a medical professional.

      Where to Start

      • The American Academy of Dermatology offers information on Vitiligo
      • DermNet New Zealand is an online resource about skin diseases developed by the New Zealand Dermatological Society Incorporated. DermNet NZ provides information about this condition.
      • MedlinePlus was designed by the National Library of Medicine to help you research your health questions, and it provides more information about this topic.
      • Genetics Home Reference (GHR) contains information on Vitiligo. This website is maintained by the National Library of Medicine.
      • The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) support research into the causes, treatment, and prevention of arthritis and musculoskeletal and skin diseases, the training of basic and clinical scientists to carry out this research, and the dissemination of information on research progress in these diseases. Click on the link to view information on this topic.
      • TeensHealth from Nemours has an information page on Vitiligo. Click on the link to access this resource.

        In-Depth Information

        • Medscape Reference provides information on this topic. You may need to register to view the medical textbook, but registration is free.
        • Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man (OMIM) is a catalog of human genes and genetic disorders. Each entry has a summary of related medical articles. It is meant for health care professionals and researchers. OMIM is maintained by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. 
        • Orphanet is a European reference portal for information on rare diseases and orphan drugs. Access to this database is free of charge.
        • PubMed is a searchable database of medical literature and lists journal articles that discuss Vitiligo. Click on the link to view a sample search on this topic.


          1. Grimes PE. Vitiligo: Pathogenesis, clinical features, and diagnosis. UpToDate. Waltham, MA: UpToDate; February 3, 2017; https://www.uptodate.com/contents/vitiligo-pathogenesis-clinical-features-and-diagnosis.
          2. Vitiligo. Genetics Home Reference. January, 2015; https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/vitiligo.
          3. Grimes PE. Vitiligo: Management and prognosis. UpToDate. Waltham, MA: UpToDate; May 5, 2017; https://www.uptodate.com/contents/vitiligo-management-and-prognosis.
          4. Vitiligo. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS). August 2010; https://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Vitiligo/default.asp. Accessed 11/20/2012.

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