One of my patients complained that patches on her neck and upper arms would never tan. When I inspected the areas, it almost looked as if someone had spilt white matt paint on her brown skin. Sometimes this common condition is confused with a fungus infection but it is, in fact, only an area of skin bereft of pigment cells which contain melanin - which turns skin brown in sunlight.
The condition is called vitiligo, which means "white skin". In the UK, up to half a million people suffer from this skin problem and people of all ethnic backgrounds and ages can be affected. The commonest sites to find this condition are on the face, neck and hands. It can also occur around body openings such as the eyes, nostrils and genitals and folded skin sites such as armpits and groins. Scars or other areas of injury, including grazes and burns, can also be afflicted by pigment loss.
Many articles taken from 'A word with the doctor', by Dr. John Windsor.