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For those living with vitiligo, understanding potential triggers and causes can be empowering. A recent study suggests that exposure to certain chemicals might be strongly linked to the development and progression of vitiligo. Knowing this may help in managing the condition.

  • Vitiligo, a condition characterized by skin depigmentation, is thought to be triggered by a mix of environmental, autoimmune, and genetic factors.
  • Exposure to certain chemicals, including those found in household chemicals and certain workplaces, appears to significantly increase the risk of developing vitiligo.
  • Regular antibiotic use may also increase the risk of vitiligo.

Vitiligo causes the loss of pigmentation in the skin. This condition, affecting between 0.1 and 2% of the global population, results from the destruction of skin cells that produce the pigment melanin. The exact cause of vitiligo is still a subject of ongoing research, but scientists think a combination of environmental, autoimmune, and genetic factors likely plays a role.

How Chemical Exposures May Be Linked to Vitiligo

A study published in the Libyan Journal of Medicine sought to understand how chemical exposure might relate to vitiligo. The researchers found that exposure to certain chemicals, such as those found near polluting sites, in household cleaning products, and in colored toothpaste, as well as occupational exposure to phenol/catechol derivatives, may increase the risk of developing vitiligo. Frequent antibiotic use was also found to potentially increase vitiligo risk.

Preventing Worsening of Vitiligo Through Awareness and Action

Being aware of these potential triggers could empower you to manage your vitiligo more effectively. Identify and reduce your exposure to chemicals in your home and work environments that may be a contributing factor.

Regular Check-Ups for Managing Vitiligo

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If you frequently use antibiotics, it may be worth discussing the potential risk of vitiligo with your healthcare provider. Regular medical check-ups and proactive conversations with your dermatologist could help you or your loved ones detect or manage vitiligo. 


Rmadi, N., Kotti, N., Bahloul, E., Dhouib, F., Sellami, I., Sellami, K., Hammami, K. J., Masmoudi, M., Turki, H., & Hajjaji, M. (2022). Role of chemical exposure in the incidence of vitiligo: a case–control study in Tunisia. Libyan Journal of Medicine, 18(1). https://doi.org/10.1080/19932820.2022.2132628