Chemicals can cause vitiligo and also make it worse

Created by okemo56 Nov 18, 2020

While genes clearly influence the risk of vitiligo, they’re not the entire answer. If genes aren’t the whole story, what else is there? This has been asked for other autoimmune diseases as well, and typically the response is “environmental factors”. But what are these factors? One very interesting environmental factor was identified in a large proportion of factory workers who developed vitiligo back in 1939. These factory workers made leather, and wore rubber gloves to protect their hands from the chemicals used in the process. But it turned out that it was the gloves themselves that contained a chemical that induced their vitiligo. The chemical is called monobenzyl ether of hydroquinone, or monobenzone. In fact, it worked so well that we use it now to remove the remaining pigment from the skin of those with widespread vitiligo, in order to make it even. It is prescribed by dermatologists as Benoquin cream.