Leucoderma vs. Vitiligo

What's the Difference?

Leucoderma and Vitiligo are both skin conditions characterized by the loss of pigmentation in certain areas of the skin. Leucoderma is a general term used to describe any condition that causes white patches on the skin, while Vitiligo specifically refers to a chronic autoimmune disorder that results in the destruction of melanocytes, the cells responsible for producing skin pigment. Both conditions can occur at any age and affect people of all races, but Vitiligo is more commonly associated with autoimmune disorders and may be linked to other health conditions. Treatment options for both Leucoderma and Vitiligo include topical corticosteroids, phototherapy, and skin grafting, but there is no known cure for either condition.


CauseAutoimmune disorderAutoimmune disorder
AppearanceWhite patches on the skinWhite patches on the skin
Age of OnsetAny ageUsually before the age of 30
ProgressionStable or progressiveStable or progressive
TreatmentTopical corticosteroids, phototherapy, depigmentationTopical corticosteroids, phototherapy, depigmentation

Further Detail


Leucoderma and vitiligo are two skin conditions that are often confused due to their similar appearance and symptoms. However, it is important to understand that while they share some similarities, they are distinct conditions with different causes, characteristics, and treatment approaches. In this article, we will delve into the attributes of leucoderma and vitiligo, shedding light on their unique features.

Definition and Overview

Leucoderma, also known as hypopigmentation, is a condition characterized by the loss of skin pigmentation in certain areas of the body. This results in the appearance of white patches on the skin. On the other hand, vitiligo is a chronic skin disorder that causes the loss of pigmentation in patches throughout the body. Both conditions are caused by the destruction of melanocytes, the cells responsible for producing melanin, the pigment that gives color to the skin, hair, and eyes.


The causes of leucoderma and vitiligo differ, leading to variations in their development and progression. Leucoderma is primarily caused by autoimmune disorders, genetic factors, or a combination of both. Autoimmune disorders occur when the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys healthy melanocytes. Genetic factors can also play a role, as certain genes are associated with an increased susceptibility to leucoderma.

Vitiligo, on the other hand, is believed to be an autoimmune condition in which the immune system attacks and destroys melanocytes. However, the exact cause of vitiligo is still not fully understood. It is thought to be a combination of genetic, environmental, and autoimmune factors. Triggers such as stress, sunburn, exposure to certain chemicals, or even a traumatic event may contribute to the development or worsening of vitiligo.


Both leucoderma and vitiligo present similar symptoms, but the extent and distribution of the depigmented patches may differ. In leucoderma, the white patches are usually well-defined and localized, often appearing on the face, hands, feet, or areas exposed to friction or pressure. The patches may remain stable or slowly expand over time.

Vitiligo, on the other hand, can affect any part of the body, including the face, hands, feet, arms, legs, and even the genital area. The patches in vitiligo are irregularly shaped and may vary in size. They can also spread rapidly or remain stable for long periods. Additionally, vitiligo may be associated with other autoimmune conditions such as thyroid disorders, diabetes, or alopecia areata.


Diagnosing leucoderma and vitiligo involves a thorough examination of the affected skin and medical history. Dermatologists may use a Wood's lamp, which emits ultraviolet light, to examine the affected areas. In leucoderma, the patches appear white under the Wood's lamp due to the absence of melanin. In vitiligo, the patches may appear more pronounced or fluorescent under the lamp.

In some cases, a skin biopsy may be performed to confirm the diagnosis. A small sample of the affected skin is taken and examined under a microscope to determine the absence or reduction of melanocytes. Additionally, blood tests may be conducted to check for autoimmune markers or other underlying conditions associated with vitiligo.


While there is no cure for either leucoderma or vitiligo, various treatment options are available to manage the conditions and improve the appearance of the affected skin. In leucoderma, treatment focuses on repigmentation of the white patches. Topical corticosteroids, calcineurin inhibitors, and psoralen plus ultraviolet A (PUVA) therapy are commonly used to stimulate melanocyte production and restore color to the affected areas.

Vitiligo treatment options include topical corticosteroids, topical calcineurin inhibitors, and PUVA therapy. In addition, narrowband ultraviolet B (NB-UVB) phototherapy, excimer laser, and surgical procedures such as skin grafting or melanocyte transplantation may be considered for more extensive or resistant cases of vitiligo.

Psychological Impact

Both leucoderma and vitiligo can have a significant psychological impact on individuals, affecting their self-esteem, body image, and overall quality of life. The visible nature of the conditions may lead to social stigma, discrimination, and feelings of self-consciousness. It is crucial to provide emotional support and counseling to individuals with leucoderma or vitiligo, helping them cope with the psychological challenges they may face.


Leucoderma and vitiligo may share similarities in terms of their appearance and symptoms, but they are distinct conditions with different causes, characteristics, and treatment approaches. Leucoderma is primarily caused by autoimmune disorders or genetic factors, while vitiligo is believed to be an autoimmune condition with various triggers. The distribution and progression of the white patches also differ between the two conditions. Proper diagnosis and understanding of these conditions are essential to provide appropriate treatment and support to individuals affected by leucoderma or vitiligo.

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