The vitiligo thyroid connection

Vitiligo is a skin condition characterized by a loss of pigment in some areas of the skin. It can be limited to a certain area or more widespread. It is an autoimmune condition like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Graves’ disease. Even though patients with vitiligo have a genetic predisposition, environmental factors might be triggers or activating factors of the condition.

Vitiligo affects roughly 1% of the population. Research has shown that patients suffering from vitiligo are more likely to have a concomitant autoimmune thyroid disease such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or Graves’ disease, as well as other autoimmune disorders including type I diabetes, alopecia areata, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, and Lupus.

What is important to remember is that when the hands are affected by the loss of pigmentation, thyroid disease is more likely to be present. In fact, research has suggested that patients with vitiligo who have lesions over their hands are 7 times more likely to have associated autoimmune thyroid disease than vitiligo patients who do not have skin loss of pigmentation in their hands.

If you have vitiligo, and especially if your hands are affected, you should be evaluated for an autoimmune thyroid condition and have thyroid testing done to determine if you have a thyroid dysfunction.

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