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A retrospective study found that Black patients with vitiligo have high rates of comorbid autoimmune diseases.

Vitiligo is a condition that causes loss of skin color in patches that can get larger over time. A 2020 retrospective study examined the diseases associated with vitiligo in the New York City population. 

The researchers evaluated the data from 1487 vitiligo patients’ medical records to determine if these associations differ by race/ethnicity and sex. The data was retrieved from all available records of patients who were seen at New York University during the 10-year period of February 2005 to February 2015. All patients in the study had previously received medical care under the diagnostic code for vitiligo and presented to the New York University Langone Medical Center system for medical care. There were slightly more women (55.1%) in the study than men.

Higher Rates of Comorbid Autoimmune Diseases and Some Non-Autoimmune Disease Associations Noted in Vitiligo Patients

Patients with vitiligo had a statistically significantly higher prevalence of hypothyroidism, multiple sclerosis (MS), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), seronegative arthritis, pernicious anemia, myasthenia gravis, inflammatory bowel disease, lymphoma, and systemic lupus erythematosus. The rates of comorbid autoimmune diseases varied by sex and race.

Black Patients Showed the Highest Rates of Autoimmune Comorbidity and Second Highest Rates of Family History of Autoimmune Diseases 

Statistically significant comorbid autoimmune conditions were found in 15.3% of the patients with vitiligo. Black patients had the highest rate of comorbid autoimmune disease, with 16.4% of black vitiligo patients in the study population diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. Blacks were second to Whites regarding the highest rate of family history of autoimmune disease, at 7.4% and 8.8%, respectively. Female patients had a higher rate of comorbid autoimmune diseases as compared to males, at 17.7% and 6.7%, respectively.

Race/ethnicity, type of vitiligo, and total body surface area affected were not consistently reported in the medical charts. Information from non-dermatology medical visits was included.

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This study revealed multiple new disease associations for vitiligo, including MS, ITP, and lymphoma. It also confirmed previously reported associations with other autoimmune diseases. Hypothyroidism was found to be the most common association, followed by RA. Disease associations varied by sex and race/ethnicity.

The researchers suggest that medical professionals should be aware of the various comorbidities that can occur with vitiligo and how these can vary by demographic group.


Hadi, A., Wang, J. F., Uppal, P., Penn, L. A., & Elbuluk, N. (2020). Comorbid diseases of vitiligo: A 10-year cross-sectional retrospective study of an urban US population. J Am Acad Dermatol, 82(3), 628-633. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaad.2019.07.036