Vitiligo is a skin disease that is characterized by the loss of skin pigment causing white patches on the skin. It can affect any part of the body or it can appear on specific areas. Vitiligo is common for people of all races. Melanin is the pigment that is responsible for skin color and hair color. When the cells that produce melanin pigment slowly get reduced or die eventually there will not be any melanin production on the body. It causes white patches on the skin indicating depigmentation. This condition runs in families and is believed to be due to autoimmune disorder. Vitiligo has no cure.
Major symptoms of vitiligo are the loss of pigment melanin in the body causing milky white patches on the skin. Either it will occur on many parts of the body or centered on specific areas like hands and arms. The hair on the scalp will become grey or white irrespective of your age. It will also affect your eyelashes and eyebrow color causing white patches. For men effect of vitiligo can be seen in white beard and grayish white scalp. For some people, the color of the retina (inner layer of the eye) may change into white.
- The symptoms of vitiligo first develop on hands and feet and other areas that are exposed to sun. It can spread to lips and even genitals.
- This skin disease often occurs on middle aged people but it can occur for children also.
- Basically there are 3 different pattern in which vitiligo appears on the skin.
- First one is the generalized form which affects skin of many areas causing white patches in symmetric fashion.
- Second one is segmental type which affects one side of the body. Often this type of vitiligo is seen in young ages.
- Third one is focal form in which the loss of original skin color is confined to specific areas of the body.
- For some people loss of pigment occurs only for certain period and stops gradually. For others it will spread to other body parts involving most of the skin surface of your body.
Exact factor that cause vitiligo is not known. Melanin is the pigment forming cells that maintains the skin color, hair color and color of the eyes. When sufficient volumes of melanin are not produced it causes dipigmentation causing white patches. It is believed to be caused by hereditary genes that are passed on to the child from the parents. Certain genes are inherited from the parents which makes the person prone to depigmentation.
Some experts suggest that vitiligo is an autoimmune disorder in which body’s own immune system will attack and destroy healthy melanin cells causing loss of pigment. A type of protein molecules called cytokines are secreted in the body which would destroy melanin cells. Exposure of skin to sunlight and stress are other factors that cause vitiligo.
Who Are At Risk ?
People with autoimmune disorders like hyperthyroidism, pernicious anemia and alopecia areata are more prone to get vitiligo than others. But no evidence is there to prove vitilogo is caused by autoimmune disorders. Individuals with family history of vitiligo are likely to get affected with depigmentation.
Your doctor will physically examine the affected skin and look for depigmentation or loss of skin color. He may order for blood tests and skin biopsy for confirming vitiligo. Blood test report will reveal presence of anti nuclear antibodies confirming autoimmune disorder. In case your skin is affected he may refer you to an ophthalmologist for checking inflammation on the eyes.
There is no cure for vitiligo. Treatment can be done for restoring skin color. It will take months together or even years for any type of therapy. For some people, original skin color will get back without any treatment. Topical creams that contain corticosteroids are prescribed for getting back the original skin color (re-pigmentation). You have to be patient for getting positive result of change in skin color. Your doctor will monitor the changes in skin texture for ruling out any possible side effects. Dovonex is also given for application on the affected skin to reduce skin tanning.
Immune modulators like pimecrolimus or tacrolimus are effective in curing vitiligo in small areas. You can apply prescribed cream liberally on the neck and face and other skin areas. Instead of depending on one treatment, you can use combined methods of applying topical creams with ultraviolet radiation therapy for getting quick results.
For people with small areas that are affected with depigmentation PUVA (topical psoralen plus ultraviolet A therapy) is recommended. Thin coating of psoralen is applied on the skin and is allowed to dry for 30 minutes. Now the skin is exposed to UV light which turns the skin color to pink. After few days, the skin will return to normal color. But you have to repeat this therapy for twice a week for getting good results. Some side effects of PUVA therapy is getting sunburn and blisters. Hence you should not expose your skin to direct sunlight after each session of therapy. Oral PUVA therapy is also effective for vitiligo. Two hours after taking the oral pills that contain psoralen the affected skin is exposed to UV radiation. However one should not continue this therapy for long term since it increases the risk of getting skin cancer.
Narrowband Ultraviolet therapy is another method of treatment in which UV light of specific wavelength is passed on affected skin surface. It is effective in treating small areas of skin that are affected with vitiligo. Laser therapy is also given for curing depigmentation of skin but it can produce side effects like causing blisters. Finally depigmentation is done for people who are affected with intense loss of pigment all over the body. In this therapy unaffected areas of the skin is made to lose pigment for matching the majority skin color. There can be swelling on the skin after this therapy.
Surgical Methods :
Skin grafting is done using small pieces of normal skin and attaching it to the affected areas of the skin. Your doctor will remove tiny pieces of skin from unaffected part and replaces them on affected areas that have lost the pigment. This method can produce side effects like scarring and spots.
Blister grafting is another technique in which new blisters are created on the normal skin that has no loss of pigment. The top portion of the blisters are surgically removed and implanted on the areas of depigmented ones. Micro-pigmentation or tattooing is done using surgical instruments on the lips and other delicate areas.
Pictures of Vitiligo :
Images, Pics, Photos and Pictures of Vitiligo
Home Remedies :
You need to protect your skin from harsh rays of sunlight. Use sunscreen lotion that contains SPF 30 when you are going out in daytime. Sunscreen lotions are effective in reducing skin tanning. Nowadays concealing cosmetics are available to hide white patches. Choose the best product that produces good results for reducing depigmentation in exposed skin.