What Do Vitiligo and Albinism Have in Common?

Both vitiligo and albinism are caused by a lack of melanin but the two conditions get dealt with in different ways. Keep reading to learn more about vitiligo and albinism, as well as the differences and similarities between the two.

Vitiligo vs Albinism
Vitiligo and Albinism

Vitiligo Vs. Albinism: Differences and Similarities

Albinism and vitiligo may appear the same thing, but they are not.

Vitiligo is an autoimmune condition and skin disease that forms when the body loses melanocytes, which create the pigment that provides skin its color (melanin). 

As a result, patches of white skin appear on various body parts. Vitiligo affects between 0.5 percent and 2% of the world's population.

Albinism is a genetic disorder that develops when the body does not produce enough melanin. The skin appears light or completely white as a result of this. Albinism affects about one out of every 20,000 people on the planet.

Continue reading to learn more about vitiligo and albinism, as well as the differences between the two.

Albinism vs. Vitiligo

Both vitiligo and albinism are caused by problems with melanin production. When it comes to development, both conditions have a genetic component. However, there are numerous distinctions between the two skin conditions.

Albinism, for example, affects all skin from birth, whereas vitiligo develops after birth and appears in patches on the skin.

Vitiligo does not affect the eyes or skin, whereas albinism does. Both conditions can cause hair loss, but albinism is more common.

Vitiligo: What You Need to Know

Vitiligo image
A person with vitiligo

Although vitiligo is not well understood, new research into the autoimmune disease is helping to shed light on the condition.

What Are Vitiligo's Symptoms?

Smooth, white patches of skin characterize vitiligo. Although the patches can appear anywhere on the body, they are most commonly found on the hands, feet, and face. The scalp and hair can lose their pigment and turn white in some cases.

Although other symptoms don't usually accompany the white patches, few people experience pain or itching in the affected areas.

What Causes Vitiligo?

Although the exact cause of vitiligo is unknown, certain risk factors are linked to the disease's development. They are as follows:

  • Autoimmunity is a condition in which the immune system misidentifies healthy cells as unhealthy and attacks them.
  • Genetic mutations are abnormal changes in DNA that can cause the disease.
  • Skin cancer and non-lymphoma Hodgkin's are two examples of cancers.
  • Overexposure to neurochemicals, chemicals in the brain that help the mind and body function, can cause health problems. These chemicals can be toxic to melanocytes once they leave the brain.

How Is Vitiligo Treated?

Vitiligo has no cure, and treatment is only required if the skin patches are causing a person to experience low self-esteem or depressive symptoms.

The treatments for the condition are designed to prevent further loss of melanocytes and slow down the immune response, preventing further cell damage.

There are several treatment options available, including:

  • Both topical and systemic immunosuppressive medications can help slow down the immune response.
  • Phototherapy is a type of light therapy in which the skin is exposed to ultraviolet A (UVA) light.
  • Surgery involves removing affected skin and replacing it with healthy skin from another part of the body.
  • Topical corticosteroids are anti-inflammatory medications that are applied to the skin.
  • Herbal therapy with Ginkgo biloba, a herb that has been shown in early clinical research to help restore skin pigment and prevent the spread of white patches.

Albinism: What You Need to Know

Albinism image
A person with albinism

Albinism is caused by a lack of melanin production by the melanocytes. This causes a complete loss of pigment throughout the body, hair, and eyes.

What Is Partial Albinism?

While albinism typically affects the entire surface area of the body, the hair, and the eyes, there is a type of albinism called partial albinism that manifests differently and only affects certain parts of the body.

What Are Albinism's Signs and Symptoms?

Albinism is characterized by pale skin, hair, and eyes. However, other symptoms can be present in people who have the condition. They are as follows:

  • Eyes crossed
  • Spontaneous instantaneous eye movements, an ailment known as nystagmus
  • Sensitivity to light understood as photophobia
  • Vision impairment or blindness 
  • Astigmatism, which is an abnormal curvature of the eyeball.

Albinism: What Causes It?

Albinism is a hereditary condition that can be passed down to a child if both parents have the disease or the genes that cause it. The genes that cause albinism play a role in the production of melanin.

How Is Albinism Treated?

There is no cure for albinism, and treatment focuses primarily on the eye issues that arise as a result of the condition. Eye problems can be treated in a variety of ways, including:

  • Contact lenses or eyeglasses
  • Large computer screens and typefaces, magnifying glasses, and software that uses speech-to-type technology are all examples of visual aids.
  • To protect the eyes from the sun, wear sunglasses or tinted glasses.
  • Squinting or a lazy eye can be improved with eye exercises.

Albinism is diagnosed in a variety of ways.

A physical exam is usually used to diagnose albinism by looking for signs of the condition on the skin, hair, and eyes.

A genetic test may be used to confirm a diagnosis and determine which specific gene mutated and led to the development of the condition.

A DNA genetic test can determine which type of albinism a person has.


Due to these conditions' light or white effect on the skin, vitiligo and albinism may seem identical. The main distinction is that vitiligo is an autoimmune disease characterized by white patches on the skin.

Albinism, on the other hand, is a genetic condition that causes the skin to appear very light all over the body, except partial albinism.

The Scientific World

The Scientific World is a Scientific and Technical Information Network that provides readers with informative & educational blogs and articles. Site Admin: Mahtab Alam Quddusi - Blogger, writer and digital publisher.

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