Interview transcription:

In an interview, dermatologist Penelope Pratsou discusses the autoimmune condition vitiligo and its causes. 

What is vitiligo and what causes vitiligo?

Penelope Pratsou: Vitiligo is an autoimmune skin problem whereby you will notice white patches on your skin that lose their pigment. This might happen suddenly and might catch you unaware, so you might not notice that it’s happened or you might have a bit of redness or itching, but it seems to appear out of the blue.

The first step to feeling in charge of your skin is to book an initial consultation


Penelope Pratsou: It is commoner in children and young individuals, but can really affect you at any age. Now, I’ve said that this is an autoimmune condition, so what happens is that our immune system doesn’t seem to recognise that the melanocytes, the pigment-producing cells, are its own and it starts to attack them, and they lose their pigment in those patches.

It can happen in any skin type, but it can be more obvious in people with darker skin and can be quite distressing for those people. In certain countries, especially in certain cultures, it can be quite an ostracising condition.

If you notice that you have any of the symptoms or conditions that we’ve just discussed, we invite you to book a consultation with Dr Penelope Pratsou. She’ll be able to assess your condition and give you a personalised treatment plan.

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About the author

Dr Penelope Pratsou | Consultant Dermatologist

MBChB, MRCP (UK) (Dermatology)

I’m Dr Penelope Pratsou, a skilled independent Consultant Dermatologist based in Berkshire. I have specialist expertise in the diagnosis and management of all skin cancers, and in performing mole checks. I’m a trained skin surgeon and remove skin cancers, moles, skin tags, cysts and warts.

I also have invaluable experience in dealing with all skin conditions, from the common skin complaints of acne, rosacea, eczema and psoriasis, to the rarer and more complex skin problems, having seen it all through years of NHS work.

After I obtained my Membership to the Royal College of Physicians, I undertook rigorous specialist training in dermatology, before being appointed as a Consultant Dermatologist at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading. There, I helped set up and lead a busy clinic for the diagnosis and treatment of suspected skin cancer. I was also actively involved in supervising and training both dermatology and GP trainees.

Alongside my increasingly busy private practice, I have maintained an NHS practice in Oxford in order to continue to engage with challenging cases and to develop my specialist interest in skin allergy.