Pigment cells are present in the inner ear and play a vasomotor function. Melanin, a compound secreted by pigment cells facilitates the passage of substances from one side to the other of the inner ear and helps maintain cell membrane equilibrium.
Some studies have shown that the auditory function was decreased in patients with pigment disorders such as vitiligo, especially in the high frequency range. The loss of pigment cells that occurs in vitiligo can decrease the cochlear health. (Note. The cochlea is the auditory portion of the inner ear)
Audiometry testing has shown that 12% of subjects enrolled in a study experience some type of hearing loss, regardless of sex, age and type of vitiligo. The loss occurs in the range of 4000-8000Hz and is bilateral (on both ears)
As vitiligo patients are predisposed to hearing dysfunctions it is recommended to undergo routine monitoring and audiological assessments by specialists for early identification and treatment.
It's not just the ears that can be affected by vitiligo. Damage from this disorder can also occur within the eye, these manifestations being attributed to abnormalities of the retinal pigment and uveitis.
As there still are opinions that vitiligo is a purely cosmetical disorder, these finding reasonably point out that vitiligo is more than a skin disease.
ANGRISANI, Rosanna Mariangela Giaffredo et al. A study on otoacoustic emissions and suppression effects in patients with vitiligo. Rev. Bras. Otorrinolaringol. [online]. 2009, vol.75, n.1 [cited 2009-11-06], pp. 111-115 . Available from: <http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0034-72992009000100018&lng=en&nrm=iso>. ISSN 0034-7299. doi: 10.1590/S0034-72992009000100018.