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Vitiligo is a common skin condition associated with many comorbid autoimmune, dermatological, and systemic diseases. These conditions include diabetes mellitus, rheumatoid arthritis, Addison’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease, scleroderma, and more. However, the researchers recognized that very few studies investigated the associations between vitiligo and various medical conditions. Therefore, this study, published by The Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, examined the association between vitiligo and medical conditions and evaluated if these associations differ by race, ethnicity, and sex.

The researchers retrospectively analyzed 1,487 vitiligo patients seen at New York University over 10 years. The medical charts exposed a few limitations, such as inconsistently reporting the type of vitiligo and the total body surface area affected. In addition, the medical charts reviewed did not always disclose race and ethnicity, which interfered with assessing the associations between vitiligo and other medical conditions among certain groups.

After reviewing the medical charts, the researchers found that vitiligo patients had a statistically significant higher prevalence of lupus erythematosus, hypothyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, pernicious anemia, idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, seronegative arthritis, and myasthenia gravis. In addition, researchers identified that the rates of comorbid autoimmune disease among vitiligo patients varied by race, ethnicity, and sex.

The study unveiled that the most commonly associated comorbid conditions among vitiligo are hypothyroidism and rheumatoid arthritis. Researchers also discovered new disease associations for vitiligo, such as lymphoma, idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, and multiple sclerosis.

Additional research on medical conditions among patients of color with vitiligo will enable health care providers and patients to become more aware of these associations. These findings will ultimately improve disease burden, quality of life, and reduce disparities.

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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. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 82(3), 628-633. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31325552