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How do I know if white patches on my lips are caused by vitiligo?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
White patches on your lips could be caused by vitiligo. Vitiligo is a skin disorder that causes the pigment-producing cells (melanocytes) to die. It is common for a loss of pigmentation to occur around the lips and inside the mouth. It may have to do with the constant rubbing that people tend to do in this area, which is a risk factor for patches in susceptible people. But not all white skin patches are caused by vitiligo. To be sure, your doctor will examine the characteristics, location, and pattern of the patches. Your personal and family medical history, particularly regarding autoimmune diseases, will be important to know.

If vitiligo is suspected, your doctor may shine a special light called a Wood's lamp on your skin to see if the patches have little or no pigment. People with vitiligo have no pigment, so patches appear yellow-green or blue under the light. Since vitiligo is thought to be an autoimmune disease, a blood test might also be performed to measure immune-system chemicals that typically increase with autoimmune diseases. A sample of skin (biopsy) may be sent to a lab to measure melanocytes.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.