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Vitiligo: an underestimated problem in general practice?

BMJ 1997; 315 doi: (Published 04 October 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;315:889
  1. Gina Agarwal, academic general practitioner
  1. at Imperial College School of Medicine (Vitiligo Society: 0171 388 8905.)

    My first encounter with vitiligo occurred as a child, at a social function, when a relative referred to a fellow guest with vitiligo as “that spotted man.” I never gave the issue much thought until as a medical student I met a young man with everything in life going for him—except that he had vitiligo. The condition was rapidly encroaching over his body, but had not reached his face. He felt that he was living with the “sword of Damocles” hanging over his head. I became more involved with patients with vitiligo during the course of my clinical career and as a general practitioner, when I saw patients with vitiligo and diagnosed them for the first time.

    I am sure that many doctors know the term vitiligo but have never really considered any more about it. It comes from the Latin “vitellus” which means “spotted calf” and this describes the condition exactly. It is a common skin …

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