Family Implications

  • How likely is it that other members of my family will have vitiligo?

    If you have vitiligo there is a 6% chance your siblings will have it too, rising to almost 25% if you have an identical twin. The risk seems to be greater with earlier onset vitiligo. Most people with vitiligo, however, do not have anyone within their immediate family with the condition.

  • How can it be genetic? No one in my family has vitiligo.

    It is common for people to develop vitiligo when there are no other family members with the condition. The causes of vitiligo are not completely understood yet, but they seem to be a mixture of genetic and environmental factors. People who have inherited a particular combination of genes are more likely than others to develop vitiligo, but the condition is not only due to heredity. The development of vitiligo may be triggered by such factors as:

    • Hormonal changes in the body, for example during adolescence.
    • Damage to the skin, for example from a cut or sunburn.
    • Extreme stress.
    • Contact with certain chemicals.
  • If I have vitiligo what are the chances of my children getting it?

    The tendency to develop vitiligo is inherited, but this does not mean that your children will necessarily get it. Children inherit a number of genes from each parent, passed on in a random fashion. These genes can combine in many different ways and only a particular combination will give children the potential to develop vitiligo. Even if they do inherit all the vitiligo genes, it is not inevitable that children will develop the condition. Chance, environmental factors and other factors not yet identified can influence whether vitiligo develops.

  • My child has vitiligo. Should I talk about it or pretend not to notice?

    We find that children usually cope best with vitiligo when parents can talk about the condition as openly and truthfully as possible. Pretending not to notice is likely to make it difficult for your child to talk to you about it.

    It may be difficult for you, as a parent or carer, to talk to your child about vitiligo because of your own feelings about the condition, which can be very upsetting. The better you cope with your child having vitiligo, the easier it will be to help him /her deal with it. It is important that you talk to your child in a matter of fact, confident way about their appearance. This can allay fears before they arise and assist your child to feel more secure and confident.

    For more information, please look at our Guide for Parents and Carers, Guide for 7-11 year-olds, Guide for 12-15 year-olds and a Guide you can give your child's school.

    Click here to see the guides