Connecting the Dots: Uncovering the Most Common Comorbidities in Vitiligo

Portuguese man with vitiligo
Image Courtesy - Carlos Carvalho's Instagram Account

Recent research (conducted by Desai S, McCormick E, Sodha P, Friedman A, and titled “Shining a light on vitiligo and associated comorbidities: what is the evidence?”) has shed light on the most common comorbidities often linked to vitiligo. In the recent review, researchers found that people with vitiligo are 2.6 times more likely to have an autoimmune or autoinflammatory comorbidity compared to those without the chronic skin condition.

Most Common Comorbidities in Vitiligo

Several comorbidities such as thyroid disease, alopecia areata, diabetes mellitus, and metabolic syndrome often occur in people living with vitiligo. Autoimmune thyroid diseases (AITD), such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Grave’s disease, also have strong linkages to the skin condition. Patients with alopecia areata also experience a reported 3% to 8% chance of having vitiligo simultaneously.

People with vitiligo may also experience rates of some autoimmune diseases at a higher prevalence than the general population. Of these, people with vitiligo had a higher prevalence of dermatomyositis, systemic lupus erythematosus, scleroderma, alopecia areata, and thyroiditis compared to the general population.

Fun fact: Researchers noted a significantly lower prevalence of rheumatoid arthritis in patients with vitiligo than the general population. Additionally, they also found that patients with vitiligo had a higher prevalence of sarcoidosis, folate deficiency anemia, B12 deficiency anemia, Turner’s syndrome, anemia, psoriasis, and atopic dermatitis compared to the general population.

Parting Notes

After examining the data mentioned above, it appears that vitiligo is associated with several autoimmune and systemic conditions. It is essential for healthcare professionals to be aware of the comorbidities associated with vitiligo to provide appropriate management and treatment.

The chronicity and ease of reappearance of vitiligo demand a necessary call to action to establish standard screening assessment guidelines for early recognition and intervention. Patients with vitiligo should be monitored for other autoimmune and systemic diseases to ensure early recognition and intervention.

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