Disorder in the pigmentation of the skin. Pale patches occur as a result of the disappearance of pigment, mainly on the backs of the hands, the face and around the anus. They can form over a period of a few days. The spots are usually only noticed when they are already some centimetres in size or very numerous. The condition can spread over the whole body. There is no pigment at all in the affected areas, so the skin looks snow-white, which is particularly striking in dark-skinned people. Vitiligo is caused by the disappearance of all the pigment cells in the affected areas, most commonly as a result of the formation of antibodies against pigment cells in an autoimmune disease. There is no effective treatment. Spontaneous recovery of the affected patches has been observed in a minority of cases, but the process takes a long time. If the condition does not heal spontaneously or does not heal quickly enough, the only possible solution is to camouflage the most serious patches by using a skin-coloured masking cream.