Vitiligo is a skin condition wherein the affected areas of the skin lose their pigment. The patches appear white and have distinctive margins. Vitiligo patients suffer uninterrupted destruction of melanocytes due to which the white patches occur. It is a non-contagious skin condition and affects patients in all age groups.
Types of Vitiligo
- Focal Vitiligo White patches are restricted to a few areas of the body.
- Scarring Scars occur due to inflamed lesion.
- Segmental Vitiligo It is also called Unilateral Vitiligo and is associated with dorsal spine. It occurs often on the face, arms and legs and leads to pigmentation and loss of hair color on the affected areas.
- Non-Segmental Vitiligo It is also known as Generalised Vitiligo and has bilateral origin i.e. it occurs on both sides of the body as if there is some form of symmetry in the areas affected..
Symptoms of Vitiligo
- White patches on the skin White patches occur on the skin and the hair on the affected areas also loses color.
- De-pigmentation of tissues Tissues may lose color especially the ones that line the inside of the mouth.
- Pre-mature greying of hair Scalp hair, eyebrows, eyelashes, and beard hair lose color due to this skin condition.
- Retina color change The color of the retina may change due to this medical condition.
Common areas affected by Vitiligo
- Face and Neck Around the eyes, the mouth and the neck.
- Hands The back of the hands, in between fingers and the knuckles.
- Arms and legs Especially on the elbows and the knees.
- Body folds Vitiligo may occur in the body folds like the armpit, back of the knee or the crook of the arm.
Causes of Vitiligo
- Genetic reasons Vitiligo could be triggered if the condition exists in the family.
- Autoimmune diseases Autoimmune diseases like hyper-thyroidism, pernicious anaemia, diabetes etc. may cause Vitiligo.
- Exposure to sun Prolonged exposure to sun could cause or worsen the skin condition.
Treatment for Vitiligo
- Topical treatment - Vitiligo can be treated by topical application of Corticosteroid ointments, Tacrolimus or Pimecrolimus. They modulate the immune attack against melanocytes and stimulate their function of melanocytes.
- Ultra Violet Light Vitiligo can be treated using ultra violet light therapy. Ultra Violet light therapy helps in re-pigmentation and hence reduces the size of the white patches.
- Surgical Therapy Surgical therapies like tissue and cell grafting can be used to treat Vitiligo. These surgical options, however, work best for patients with stable vitiligo (patients that have no new lesions or no further progression of the condition over 1 2 years) and suffer either from segmental or focal vitiligo.
- Cosmetic Camouflage Vitiligo lesions or white patches can be covered using cosmetic camouflage/ cover up. This is a temporary solution that conceals the white patches with a color closest to the original color of the skin.