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Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol. 2019 Nov 25. doi: 10.4103/ijdvl.IJDVL_409_18. [Epub ahead of print]

A cross-sectional study of spontaneous repigmentation in vitiligo.

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Department of Dermatology and Venereology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India.
Department of Biostatistics, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India.



Spontaneous regression is well documented in several chronic skin diseases such as psoriasis, alopecia areata, and atopic dermatitis. However, information on vitiligo is scarce.


We studied the frequency, extent, and factors affecting spontaneous repigmentation in vitiligo.


A cross-sectional descriptive study was undertaken in 167 patients with vitiligo with an emphasis on history of spontaneous repigmentation. Where available, photographs documenting spontaneous repigmentation were also obtained. Repigmentation was defined as spontaneous if it occurred when the patient was off treatment for at least 3 consecutive months.


Spontaneous repigmentation occurred in 36 (21.5%) patients with complete repigmentation in 6 (3.6%) patients. The extent varied from 0.5% to 100% (mean, 35.4 ± 37.9%) of vitiliginous skin. It occurred after 3 months to 47 years (mean, 8.7 ± 9.5 years) of onset of vitiligo and persisted for 2 months to 27 years (mean, 4.4 ± 6.2 years). Diffuse repigmentation was the most common pattern observed in 20 (55.6%) patients and there was a good color match in 26 (72.2%) patients. Likelihood of spontaneous repigmentation was 3.5 times greater in patients with more than 3 years of stable disease (P = 0.001).


The chief limitation was the dependence on patient recall for the data, except when documented by images.


Spontaneous repigmentation occurs in one-fifth of patients with vitiligo. In some patients, the repigmentation is clinically significant and long-lasting. Considering its frequency and extent, spontaneous repigmentation should be taken into account both when evaluating novel interventions and counselling patients about the course of the disease.


Repigmentation; spontaneous; vitiligo

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