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

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
White patches around your navel (belly button) could be caused by vitiligo. Vitiligo is a skin disorder that causes the pigment-producing cells (melanocytes) to die. The white patches of vitiligo can make a white ring around your navel and extend into other areas of your midriff. But not all white skin patches are caused by vitiligo. Other conditions your doctor might consider include pityriasis alba, tinea versicolor, eczema, psoriasis, or a fungal infection. To be sure you have vitiligo around your navel and not some other skin disorder, your doctor will examine the characteristics, location, and pattern of all 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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