Difference Between Vitiligo and Leucoderma

Main Difference – Vitiligo vs Leucoderma

Vitiligo and Leucoderma are two common skin conditions characterized by extensive white patches over the skin. It is often difficult to distinguish the difference between Vitiligo and Leucoderma since they share many similar symptoms. However, the main difference between vitiligo and leucoderma stems from their cause; vitiligo is mainly caused by autoimmune conditions, hormonal changes, acute emotional trauma, recurrent episodes of Jaundice or typhoid fever, prolonged antibiotic treatments or corticosteroid treatment whereas Leucoderma will strictly occur following a physical trauma.

This article presents the following information:

1. What is Vitiligo?- Clinical Features, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment and Follow-up

2. What is Leucoderma?- Clinical Features, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment and Follow-up

3. What is the Difference between Vitiligo and Leucoderma?

Difference Between Vitiligo and Leucoderma - Vitiligo vs Leucoderma Comparison Summary

What is Vitiligo

This is a long-term skin condition which is characterized by pale, white patches, developing on the skin due to the lack of skin pigmentation known as Melanin. Vitiligo can affect any part of our skin, but commonly involves the area which is vastly exposed to the sun, including the face, neck, and hands.

Even though the exact etiology of this condition is not known clearly, certain autoimmune conditions and underlying health problems related to nerve endings, sudden emotional trauma, stress are thought to be increasing the risk. Other causes of vitiligo can be regular consumption of vegetables and fruits treated with insecticide/pesticide, recurrent episodes of Jaundice or Typhoid fever, heavy Antibiotic treatment, corticosteroid treatment and poor personal hygiene.

In 50% of affected individuals, the initial skin changes would appear before the age of 20, but not as a rule. Both men and women are equally affected, and there is no known predominance in any ethnicity.

This condition can usually be diagnosed accurately by analyzing a complete history from the patient and with a thorough physical examination of the affected skin areas. This is mostly done by using an ultraviolet lamp, shone on the skin in order to gain a better visualization and to rule out other skin conditions. Other tests will also be carried out to exclude conditions like Diabetes or Hyperthyroidism.

White patches on the skin caused by vitiligo have no permanent cure, yet the appearance can be improved with certain medications. In fact, relatively small patches can be concealed with skin camouflage creams or cosmetic concealers.

Furthermore, severe and extensive patches could be treated with a combination of treatments including phototherapy and medication.

However, since the spreading of the disease cannot be halted completely, it is important to advise the affected individuals to minimize the exposure to sunlight, to prevent negative outcomes.

As far as the complications of Vitiligo are concerned, the lack of Melanin can result in sunburns and can increase the risk of skin carcinoma caused by chronic exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun. Also, some individuals may get affected with lack of pigmentation in eyes and partial loss of hearing which is known as Hypoacusis.

Additionally, this can also result in problems related to confidence and self-esteem, so it is highly important to get the social support from such charity and social services in order to change the negative attitudes of the community towards Vitiligo.

Main Difference - Vitiligo vs Leucoderma

UV photograph of a hand with vitiligo

What is Leucoderma

Leucoderma is basically a de-pigmentation of the skin marked by the localization or eventual destruction of melanocytes. The characteristic white patches are closely bounded on the skin in comparison to vitiligo. Some people even suggest that Vitiligo is a form of Leucoderma, but there is no scientific evidence supporting it.

Commonest causes of Leucoderma include traumatic incidents such accidental cuts, burns, and ulcers where the ultimate result would be a scar formation thus resulting in a gradual development of a white patch.

Leucoderma is mainly identified by the white patches which would be localized to smaller areas at the beginning but tend to get enlarged over time. Most such skin changes begin to get noted around the age of 10 and 30 years and would be more noticeable in people with dark skin complexions.

The main objective of the treatment includes the correction of metabolism by improving immunity, enhancing the capacity of possible pigmentation over the affected area.

Difference Between Vitiligo and Leucoderma

Difference Between Vitiligo and Leucoderma

Clinical Features

As far as the clinical presentation is concerned, both Vitiligo and Leucoderma consist of white patches which can only be differentiated by the cause. But in some patients, the raised patches could be evident of Leucoderma without using a source of light, even though it is quite hard to differentiate.


Vitiligo is mainly caused by autoimmune conditions, hormonal changes, acute emotional trauma or stress, recurrent episodes of Jaundice or Typhoid fever, prolonged Antibiotic treatments or corticosteroid treatment.

Leucoderma will strictly occur following a physical trauma such as cut, burn or ulceration. The scar which will then form will ultimately convert into a white patch which might sometimes enlarge in size over time.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Being two clinical diagnosis, a complete history and physical examination especially of skin changes are very important to decide on the treatment plan.

Concealing creams and Phototherapy would help in most of the patients, but the progression of them cannot be halted, due to the life-long nature.

Image Courtesy:

“Leucoderma 1” By George Henry Fox – Fox, George Henry (1886) Photographic illustrations of skin diseases (2nd ed.), E.B. Treat Retrieved on 25 September 2010. (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia

“Vitiligo UV 1” By Chip Bobbert – Own work (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia 

About the Author: Embogama

Embogama is a passionate freelance writer for several years. Her areas of interest include general medicine, clinical medicine, health and fitness, Ayurveda medicine, psychology, counseling and piano music