What Do You Mean By Vitiligo?
Vitiligo is a skin disorder in which white patches develop on the skin. Smooth white areas(called macules if less than 5mm patches or more than 5 mm patches) appear on a person’s skin. If you have vitiligo in a place that has hair then the hair on your body also turns to white color.
It is occurred due to the condition in which the melanocytes( the skin cells that produce melanin that gives color to the skin) are destroyed by the body’s own immune system. It is more noticeable in the person who has dark skin. It leads to psychological stress and those affected may be stigmatized.
1) Generalized– It is the most common type. It is a condition where discolored patches show up all over your body.
2) Segmental– It is a condition where vitiligo is confined to one area of your body such a face or your hands.
3) Focal– It happens when the discoloration stays in on spot without spreading.
4) Trichrome– It is a condition where there is heavy discoloration followed by an area of lighter discoloration, followed by regular skin color.
What Causes Vitiligo?
Although the causes of vitiligo are not completely identified, there is a number of different theories, they are:
- Autoimmune disorder: The affected person’s immune system develops antibodies that destroy the melanocytes
- Genetic disorder: Certain factors that increase the chance of getting vitiligo can be inherited.
- Neurogenic factor: A substance that is toxic to melanocyte released at the nerve ending in the skin.
- Self-destruction: A defect present in the melanocyte cause them to destroy themselves.
Symptoms Of Vitiligo
You’ll often lose pigment quickly on several areas of your skin where the white patches begin to appear. You may have cycles of pigment loss. The white patches that appear on your skin might get bigger later on.
Vitiligo commonly affects :
- Body folds
- Around moles
- Around the body opening
- Areas exposure toward the sun
- Mucous membrane
- Injured part in past
It can also affect the eyelid and hair, however, it’s rare for the pigment to return once after the white patches developed.
How Is Vitiligo Treated?
There is no cure for vitiligo but some of the treatment methods are available. The best evidence is for applied steroids and the combination of UV light with creams. Due to the higher risk of skin cancers, most health services suggest phototherapy, if the primary treatment is ineffective. Lesion located on the hands, feet, and joints is the most difficult to repigment whereas those on the face are easiest to return to natural skin color because the skin is thinner in nature. Common treatment involves camouflage therapy, repigmentation therapy, surgery as well as light therapy whereas counseling may also be recommended.
1) Camouflage therapy
- Using sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher as the sunscreen shield the Ultraviolet B light and Ultraviolet A light. Sunscreen also minimizes tanning, which the contrast between affected and normal skin.
- Makeups help camouflage depigmented areas in which the well-known brand is Dermablend
- If vitiligo affects the hair then dye of hair
- Depigmentation therapy with the drugs monobenzone is used if the vitiligo is severe. This medication is applied to pigmentation patches of skin and turns them white to match the area of affected parts.
2) Repigmentation therapy
- Topical vitamin D analogs
- Topical immunomodulators
- Corticosteroids can be taken orally as a pill or topically as a cream by putting on the skin. In this therapy, the doctor will monitor the patient for any side effects which include skin thinning or some stretch marks if used for a prolonged time.
3) Light therapy
- Narrowband ultraviolet B requires 2 to 3 treatment sessions per week for some months.
- Combining oral psoralen and UVA is effective to treat large areas of the skin with vitiligo such a the areas of the head, neck, trunk, arms, and legs.
- Autologous skin grafts– Skin is taken from one part of the patient in order to cover the other part. Possible complication involves the scarring, failure to repigment. It is also called mini grafting.
- Micropigmentation– A type of tattooing that is mostly applied to the lips of people who have developed vitiligo.
Vitiligo can cause psychological distress and has the ability to affect a person’s outlook which reduces social interaction. So, counseling is considered one of the treatments of vitiligo.