The underlying mechanism which causes vitiligo is loss of melanin. This occurs due to the destruction of existing melanocytes and defective formation of new melanocytes. However, the precise reason for white spots on the skin is the loss of melanin, but the reason behind the destruction of these pigment-forming cells is not completely understood.
Additionally, vitiligo is said to be associated with (and affecting people with) certain auto-immune and inflammatory diseases, namely:
- hypothyroidism - under-functioning of the thyroid gland;
- hyperthyroidism - over-functioning of the thyroid gland;
- diabetes mellitus;
- Addison's disease;
- alopecia areata;
- psoriasis; and
- pernicious anaemia.
A list of things that can trigger vitiligo in an individual genetically predisposed for vitiligo are as follows: