Albinism and Vitiligo

Albinism may at times be mistaken for wide spread vitiligo but they are two absolutely different and unrelated disease entities. A few of the major differences are, that Albinism is an inheritable disorder, and is present at the time of birth, while Vitiligo is an acquired auto immune disorder of the pigment which starts somewhere after birth. Albinism is a stable disorder which does not spread or improve, while Vitiligo can improve and worsen with treatment as well as on its own. Albinism is of two types; one in which the whole body including the eyes, the retina, the skin and the hair, all melanin containing areas of the body are involved, and the other which affects only the eyes. Vitiligo on the other hand starts as a patchy disorder which can take many different shapes. As far as the basic abnormality is concerned, albinism results from a biochemical defect in the making of melanin, while Vitiligo results from autoimmune destruction of the pigment producing cells, the melanocytes. The most important difference however is that Vitiligo can be improved with treatment while Albinism can not!