Background The frequency of vitiligo in white populations has been generally estimated to be about 0.5–1%. The same prevalence is expected in black populations, despite the few investigations reported. No studies have been performed in black populations living in the Caribbean Islands. Therefore, our purpose was to report an epidemiologic study of vitiligo in the French West Indies (Isle of Martinique).
Methods We performed a prospective study between October 1995 and March 1996; 2077 outpatients of the Department of Dermatology at the Fort de France University Hospital were examined to detect vitiligo. Concurrently, 32 patients (23 women and nine men), presenting with vitiligo, were questioned about their family history, personal diseases, age, and circumstances of vitiligo occurrence.
Results Vitiligo was found in seven patients (five women and two men) out of 2077. The prevalence in the studied population was 0.34%. Of the 32 patients with vitiligo who were investigated, 11 (34%) had a family history of vitiligo, two (6%) suffered from thyroid disease, two (6%) from psoriasis, and one (3%) from atopic dermatitis. The median age at vitiligo onset was 29 years.
Conclusions Despite the bias due to the recruitment of patients in the Dermatology Department, this study demonstrates a prevalence in a black population comparable, or slightly inferior, to the currently accepted data in white people. Our results concerning the age of onset and pathologic associations showed no difference with the literature data related to white populations.