is a pigmentation disorder in which melanocytes (the cells that make pigment) in the skin are destroyed. As a result, white patches appear on the skin in different parts of the body, and sometimes also on both the mucous membranes and the retina. The average age of onset is in the mid-20s. It is generally considered to be an autoimmune disorder, and about 20-25 percent of people with vitiligo also have at least one other autoimmune disorder. In the absence of other conditions, vitiligo does not affect general health; however, concerns about appearance and ethnic identity are significant issues for many affected individuals. The exact cause of vitiligo is not known, but there are several different theories. There is strong evidence that people with vitiligo inherit a group of genes that make them susceptible to depigmentation. The main goal of treating vitiligo is to improve appearance; current treatment options include medication, surgery, and adjunctive therapies (used along with surgical or medical treatments). Source: Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD), supported by ORDR-NCATS and NHGRI.