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Side Effect: Loss of Pigmentation (Vitiligo)

What is Loss of Pigmentation (Vitiligo)?

Vitiligo is a skin condition characterized by the loss of pigmentation in patches of skin due to the destruction of melanocytes, the cells responsible for producing skin pigment. The cause of vitiligo is believed to involve an autoimmune process where the body's immune system attacks and destroys melanocytes.

What does Loss of Pigmentation (Vitiligo) look like?

Vitiligo typically appears as depigmented patches of skin on the face, arms, hands, and other areas where there is friction to the skin. The patches can vary in size and shape and may appear as sharply defined borders or gradually fade into the surrounding skin.

Loss of Pigmentation (Vitiligo)

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Who gets Loss of Pigmentation (Vitiligo)?

How to treat Loss of Pigmentation (Vitiligo)

The treatment of vitiligo in cancer patients can be challenging as it does not usually resolve after stopping the causative treatments and certain treatments for vitiligo may be contraindicated.

In general, it is recommended to avoid exposure to sunlight and to keep affected areas covered. Topical treatments that decrase the immune system response, such as hydrocortisone (a corticosteroid), may used but only after approved by your doctor. If appropriate, alternative treatments that may be considered include phototherapy, systemic corticosteroids (such as prednisone pills), surgical grafting, or depigmentation treatments.


1. Bergqvist C and Ezzedine K. Vitiligo: A Review. Dermatology. 2020;236(6):571-592.

2. Geisler AN, Phillips GS, Barrios DM. Immune checkpoint inhibitor-related dermatologic adverse events. J Am Acad Dermatol 2020;83(5):1255-1268.

Created: January 12, 2024 Updated: March 14, 2024