December 22 22:02 2019 Print This Article

Vitiligo is a pigmentation disorder in which melanocytes (the cells that make pigment) in the skin, the mucous membranes (tissues that line the inside of the mouth and nose and genital and rectal areas), and the retina (inner layer of the eyeball) are destroyed. It is quite a common skin condition which can cause extreme distress to sufferers because of its unusual appearance. If the cells that produce melanin die or no longer form melanin, slowly growing white patches of irregular shapes appear on your skin.

The hair may also go grey early on the scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes and body. White hair is called ‘poliosis’. The retina may also be affected. The loss of melanocytes alters both the structure and function of these organs and results in the absence of pigment. The precise etiology of vitiligo is complex and not fully understood. Any part of the body may be affected. Usually both sides of the body are affected. Common areas of involvement are the face, lips, hands, arms, legs, and genital areas. The disease has been around for thousands of years. Vitiligo occurs in 1-2% of the population.

Vitiligo is a disease in which the skin loses pigment due to the destruction of melanocytes or pigment cells. Lesions appear as flat areas with no pigment and with a darker boarder. It is an acquired progressive disorder in which some or all of the melanocytes in the interfollicular epidermis, and occasionally those in the hair follicles, are selectively destroyed. A number of disorders occur in association with vitiligo including thyroid disease, pernicious anaemia, hypoparathyroidism, Addison’s disease, Halo nevi and diabetes mellitus.

Some observations seem to support autosomal dominant inheritance with variable expression and incomplete penetrance. The disease itself is not inherited, but the disposition to have vitiligo is inherited. It is believed that vitiligo is an autoimmune disorder (autoimmune means the bodies own immune system turns on itself). The condition cannot be cured at present, but treatments are available that may be very helpful.Vitiligo usually starts as small areas of pigment loss that spread and become larger with time.

Causes of Vitiligo

The comman causes of Vitiligo include the following:

  • Vitiligo sometimes runs in families, meaning that a genetic factor may be involved.
  • Heredity (over 30 percent of affected persons have reported vitiligo in a parent, sibling, or child).
  • Exposure to chemicals such as phenol (disinfectant) or catechol (used in dyeing or tanning).
  • Patients with vitiligo are sensitive to free radicals and need aggressive vitamin therapy.
  • Vitiligo sometimes occurs at the site of an old injury.
  • Inflammatory skin disorders.
  • Autotoxic response is which the melanocytes self-destruct leaving a toxic residue, that, in turn destroys new melanocytes.
  • A case of very severe sunburn.
  • The melanocytes cells destroying themselves by mistake.
  • Skin injury.

Symptoms of Vitiligo

Some sign and symptoms related to Vitiligo are as follows:

  • The primary symptom of vitiligo is loss of skin color.
  • Vitiligo is usually first noticed as white patches (depigmentation) on their skin.
  • Chalk white patches of skin often located symmetrically on both sides of the body.
  • White hairs within depigmented patches.
  • Loss or change in color of the inner layer of your eye (retina).
  • Loss of color in the tissues that line the inside of your mouth (mucous membranes).
  • Family history of vitiligo.
  • Vitiligo has no affect on a person’s physical health, and won’t cause any physical discomfort to the affected skin, such as itching.

Treatment of Vitiligo

The list of the methods for tresting Vitiligo:

  • Exposure to intense ultraviolet light, such as narrow-band UVB therapy.
  • Topical psoralen photochemotherapy.
  • Depigmentation.
  • Use a cosmetic cover-up solution. Make-up, self-tanning compounds with dihydroxyacetone, and dyes (such as Covermark, Walnut Stain, Vita Dye or Dermablend) help temporarily conceal the white patches of vitiligo.
  • Oral medications, such as trimethylpsoralen (Trisoralen).
  • The restoration of the normal pigment and can be achieved with repigmentation therapy or corticosteroids.
  • Systemic phototherapy induces cosmetically satisfactory repigmentation in up to 70% of early or localized cases.
  • Repigmenting agents such as Oxsoralen (methoxsalen).
  • Immunosuppressants such as Elidel (pimecrolimus) and Protopic (tacrolimus).