Is piebaldism the identical as vitiligo? – The Vit Professional (A weblog about vitiligo)

Final Up to date Might 7, 2021 by Caroline Haye

Similarities and variations between vitiligo and piebaldism

We see animals with white spots on their pores and skin, fur, or feathers on a regular basis. We in all probability suppose these manufacturers are eye-catching and delightful. Both that, or we take them a lot without any consideration that we do not take into consideration them in any respect. In spite of everything, we all know that magpies and pandas have to be black and white. People, however, are usually uniform in shade. So once we see white spots on an individual’s pores and skin or hair, a standard response is shock. Except, after all, we’re already conscious of the pigmentary situations that may trigger them. Two of those situations are so related that typically one is mistaken for the opposite. So on this article I’m going to reply the query, is piebaldism the identical as vitiligo?

Since you might be studying a weblog about vitiligo, I will assume you understand one thing about vitiligo. (If not, you would possibly need to take a fast take a look at the web page What’s Vitiligo?) So for now, I will take it without any consideration that you understand that vitiligo is a pigment dysfunction that causes white patches on the pores and skin and, typically lack of hair shade as properly. However what’s piebaldism?


Like me, you might already be conversant in the phrase in an equine context. I bear in mind as a baby I admired photos of skewed and pitted horses in my many books on horses. However I did not know that individuals might be spicy too. The phrase piebald, in case you had been questioning, is derived from “pastel” (as in magpie) and “bald” (that means marked with white, as in bald eagle).

Bald eagle

Piebaldism It’s a hereditary phenomenon that’s frequent in animals, partly because of the genetic penalties of selective breeding, however uncommon in people. It’s the results of a genetic mutation that impacts the migration of melanocytes (pigment-producing cells) through the early growth of the fetus within the womb. This leads to an absence of pigment in sure areas of the pores and skin and hair … Normally a central triangular a part of the scalp and brow, making a white streak and a scarcity of pores and skin shade that may unfold down to incorporate the eyebrows. Typically the trunk and extremities even have depigmented patches, often mirrored symmetrically on each side of the physique.

On pale pores and skin, the absence of pigment is probably not very noticeable until the particular person is tanning. However the distinction is most noticeable on deeper complexions. And the look of a piebald pompadour is apparent on all however the lightest blonde heads. However, whereas that is fairly straightforward to cowl up by coloring your hair, some folks understandably select to put on it as a horny trend assertion.

Girl with Pibaldism
Photograph by Alexis Gethin on Unsplash

Leaving apart the distinctive form and placement of the depigmentation on the top in piebaldism, the white patches look so precisely like vitiligo that it may be tough to inform the distinction. Due to this fact, it’s not stunning that individuals typically confuse the 2 pigmentary situations.

To assist make clear what they’ve in frequent and what distinguishes one from the opposite, I’ve compiled a listing of the primary similarities and variations under. (I all the time attempt to verify the knowledge I present is totally correct. So please be at liberty to contact me in case you discover any errors that have to be corrected).

Similarities Between Vitiligo and Piebaldism

  • There are genetic causes in each circumstances.
  • Each situations will be inherited.
  • Irregular patches of white pores and skin (often known as leukoderma or leucism) are the obvious symptom.
  • Not solely the pores and skin, but in addition the hair, can lose their shade.
  • The patches are often symmetrical on each side of the physique.
  • Each vitiligo and piebaldism are tough to deal with.

Variations between piebaldism and vitiligo

  • Piebaldism is current at delivery, whereas vitiligo shouldn’t be.
  • The genetics of the 2 situations are utterly totally different. A mutation within the c-kit gene is answerable for piebaldism, whereas greater than 30 totally different genes (however primarily NLRP1 and PTPN22) can contribute to vitiligo.
  • Piebaldism is autosomal dominant (that means it solely requires the irregular gene to be handed from one mum or dad). Vitiligo geneticsHowever, they’re much extra complicated and lots of sufferers do not need identified family with a historical past of it.
  • The melanocytes in piebaldsm are utterly absent within the depigmented patches, whereas they’re current in vitiligo lesions (it simply does not work correctly).
  • Vitiligo is often progressive … It spreads and might come and go. Piebaldism, however, is nearly all the time immutable.
  • Vitiligo is an autoimmune situation, which piebaldism shouldn’t be.
  • The 2 issues are likely to have utterly totally different comorbidities (that’s, situations that happen collectively, usually interacting with one another). For example, Waardenburg syndrome and listening to loss typically accompanies piebaldism, whereas vitiligo is extra usually related to thyroid illness, amongst different autoimmune situations.

Why does it matter that these two pigment situations will not be the identical?

It is very important know the distinction as a result of data is energy. An correct prognosis of what situation you may have impacts what you’ll be able to count on to occur sooner or later. And that can affect what you might or might not determine to do about it. It will probably point out whether or not or not remedy is acceptable and what choices can be found. Not solely that, however your prognosis might have an effect on you psychologically in another way as properly.

Many individuals really feel that vitiligo warrants medical remedy. In actual fact, most sufferers desire a treatment. There are already a number of remedy choices for vitiligo and far analysis is at present underway to develop extra. Psychological help for these with vitiligo may additionally be extra acceptable because of the altering and progressive nature of the dysfunction. And there are a lot of organizations and help teams that mirror this want.

Piebaldism, however, has not generated the identical stage of medical or media curiosity. The overall ignorance could also be as a result of low demand. Since it’s not progressive and isn’t actually a illness, most individuals might not see piebaldism as one thing that must be fastened. It truly seems extra like having a birthmark than an energetic pores and skin dysfunction. Due to this fact, the remedy is probably not thought of related and in any case the choices are restricted and fairly excessive (a mixture of dermabrasion and pores and skin grafts).

Added to which, from a psychological perspective, tales like Rebecca heckard Fortuitously, early bullying experiences seem like uncommon. In actual fact, my seek for help teams for folks with piebaldism solely led me to the British Skewbald and Piebald Affiliation, which is for horse fanatics and house owners. (There’s a good public group for folks with the situation on Fb although at this hyperlink: )

Ultimate ideas

Researching this subject has been a captivating train. It actually amazed me that two pores and skin situations may look so alike and truly be so totally different. And but it amazes me that the variations are in all probability extra related in a scientific and medical context than for the very people who’ve these white patches on their pores and skin. For them, lots of their experiences and selections in actual life are very related. The data that you’ve a visual distinction … Face this in your personal thoughts … Face the scrutiny and curiosity of others … And determine whether or not to camouflage or deal with your white pores and skin and hair, whether or not to indicate it off proudly or just neglect it. Normally these are the on a regular basis issues that individuals have in frequent, whether or not their depigmentation is because of vitiligo or piebaldism.


Throughout the preparation of this publish, IrI used to be going to search out out if each vitiligo and piebaldism ever happen collectively. I got here throughout This text, which appears to counsel that it will possibly occur, however is extraordinarily uncommon.

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