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News about Skin Diseases From a Microscopic Eye!
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How Can a Dermatopathologist Help Me?
Medical Terms You Should Know
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Featured Article

Learn more about Vitiligo from the National Vitiligo Foundation.

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September 2009

The Dermatopathology Institute analyzes the current stories making headlines in dermatology with a viewpoint from the microscope, helping you to truly understand all of the nuances of the disease.

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The Dermatopathology Institute
How Can a Dermatopathologist Help Me?
What is Vitiligo?

Vitiligo is a lightening of the skin forming white spots. Melanocytes in the skin create pigmentation in our skin. For a variety of reasons, the melanocytes in vitiligo are either lost or dysfunctional, resulting in loss of pigment. Unfortunately, there is no reliably consistent cure. Thus, it is important to establish a correct diagnosis. There are several medical diseases which may mimic vitiligo, including a fungal infection of the skin. Although a health care professional skilled in recognizing vitiligo may strongly suspect the diagnosis, it is only with a biopsy can the diagnosis be definitely established.
A dermatopathologist may utilize antibodies to melanocytes when reviewing the biopsy. If there is loss of staining, the diagnosis of vitiligo is confirmed. Additional studies to rule out a fungal infection or other causes of a lightening of the skin may also be performed.
Medical Terms You Should Know

Vitiligo may affect anyone and any part of the body. Although the disease may occur alone, it may also be associated with other diseases including autoimmune diseases such as lupus erythematosus and some types of thyroid disease. If you think you may have vitiligo, it is important to have your skin examined by an expert in skin diseases.
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Paul K. Shitabata, M.D.
President and Medical Director
Dermatopathology Institute