The diagnosis

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If you have white patches of skin, it is important to go to your doctor for a diagnosis.  The commonest type of vitiligo is symmetrical, with the patches often on the hands, on folds of skin at the armpit and groin, and around the body’s openings: mouth, eyes and genitals.  There are other conditions which can be mistaken for vitiligo, so you need a medical diagnosis to be sure.

When you see the doctor, it may be helpful to:

  • write down questions before you go.  This may help you to feel in control of the consultation and to make sure your concerns are dealt with.
  • have a trusted person with you, who can support you and help you to make sense of the information afterwards.
  • ask for information to take away with you. You may want to find out more about vitiligo before making any decisions, and
  • arrange another appointment to discuss treatment options.  Do not feel you have to commit yourself to a course of action if you are not ready to do this yet.

Vitiligo is not a physically harmful condition, so you may find that the doctor’s approach is to reassure you that having the condition is not so bad.  You may find this reassurance helpful.  However, people have different reactions to hearing that they have vitiligo.   You may feel that focusing on the physical aspect of the condition does not take account of the emotional impact vitiligo can have.  Having a changed appearance can be very distressing for many people – if this is how you feel, it is an understandable and normal reaction.

You may find it helpful to look at the “what’s next” section of this website.