What is Vitiligo?
Vitiligo is a chronic (long-lasting) disorder that causes patches of skin to lose pigment or color and turn white. This happens when melanocytes – skin cells that make pigment – are attacked and destroyed, causing the skin to turn a milky-white color. If you have vitiligo in a place that has hair, the hair on your body may also turn white.
Causes of vitiligo
The cause of vitiligo is unknown, but research suggests that vitiligo may be an autoimmune disease.
Anyone can get vitiligo, and it can develop at any age. The first signs of vitiligo are white patches on the skin, which can develop anywhere on the body, including on the face, arms, hands, genitals, and buttocks. However, for many people with vitiligo, the white patches begin to appear before age 20, and can start in early childhood.
Vitiligo seems to be more common in people who have a family history of the disorder or who have certain autoimmune diseases.
Types of vitiligo
Which type you have depends on where you have it.
• Generalized is the most common type. This is when discolored patches show up all over body.
• Segmental is when your vitiligo is confined to one area of body, like face or hands.
• Focal happens when the discoloration stays in one spot and doesn’t spreads.
• Mucosal affects mucous membranes of the mouth and/or the genitals.
• Universal another rare type. In this type at least 80% of your skin is discolored.
• Using sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.Use of sunscreens minimizes tanning, thereby limiting the contrast between affected and normal skin.
• Makeups help camouflage depigmented areas.
• Hair dyes if vitiligo affects the hair.
• Depigmentation therapy with the drug monobenzone can be used if the disease is extensive. This medication is applied to pigmented patches of skin and will turn them white to match the areas of vitiligo.
• Topical creams such as corticosteroids,Tacrolimus or
• Topical Vit D analogs (which are synthetic versions of the vitamin)
• Topical immunomodulators
• Combination therapy with UVA light and the oral medication psoralen, which may be especially effective if you have large areas of skin affected by vitiligo
• Skin grafting,punch grafting,blister grafting
• Tattooing ( micropigmantation specially on lip areas)
• Vitiligo can cause psychological distress and has the ability to affect a person’s outlook and social interactions.Hence it is advisable to seek a help of a professional counsellor or join the support group.