People with vitiligo usually lose skin pigment in patches. The depigmented, white patches may spread all over the body, or they may appear only in one area. This loss of pigmentation can happen in and around the vagina.

Vitiligo is a chronic condition that causes the skin to lose melanin, the substance that determines your skin color. Researchers believe that vitiligo is an autoimmune disease—a condition that causes the body’s immune system to turn against itself and destroy healthy cells.

Vitiligo skin color isn’t contagious or life-threatening. However, it can lead to challenges with self-esteem, psychological distress, body image, and quality of life.

Vitiligo skin conditions on the vagina is sometimes called mucosal vitiligo (MV)—skin depigmentation in the mouth and/or genitals—or vulvar vitiligo (VV). White patches may appear on the vulva (the external genitalia), inside the vagina, or both.

Sometimes, vitiligo in and around the vagina is misdiagnosed as lichen sclerosus (or vice versa). Lichen sclerosus is a chronic inflammatory skin disorder that causes itchy, white patches to develop on the external genitalia. Some people have both vitiligo and lichen sclerosus.

Like vitiligo, lichen sclerosus is not contagious, and it can’t be sexually transmitted. However, lichen sclerosus is linked to an increased risk of vulvar cancer. Vitiligo is not loss of skin.

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Chantelle Whitney Brown-Young (born July 27, 1994), known professionally as Winnie Harlow, is a Jamaican-Canadian fashion model and public spokesperson on the skin condition vitiligo. She gained prominence in 2014 as a contestant on the 21st cycle of the U.S. television series America’s Next Top Model.