Vitiligo is a long-term skin condition that causes loss of skin color in smooth, white patches. These patches are are known as macules. They can appear on any part of the skin, including the scalp and the inside of the mouth. Most commonly affected areas by vitiligo are face, neck, and hands. It also appears on body parts where the skin creases. Vitiligo can affect people of all skin types, but is much more apparent in those with darker skin tones. Although it is not a life-threatening or contagious disease, a visit to a Dermatologist in Karachi is highly recommended, so that you can receive proper treatment and care.
Vitiligo begins with a few small white patches, but over time, the discolored areas get bigger. The condition varies in people: some experience less depigmented areas, while others have a widespread loss of their natural skin color. Nevertheless, the white patches are extremely vulnerable to sunlight, which is why it’s crucial to apply sunscreen and stay out of the sun as much as possible to avoid sunburn.
Types of Vitiligo:
There are two main types of vitiligo:
1. Segmental vitiligo:
Segmental vitiligo is also known as unilateral or localized vitiligo. The white patches in this type of vitiligo only affect one particular area of your body. Segmental vitiligo is more common in children.
2. Non-segmental vitiligo:
Non-segmental vitiligo is also called bilateral or generalized vitiligo. In this type of vitiligo white patches appear on both sides of the body in a symmetrical manner. Nine out of ten people have this type of vitiligo,
Some other types of vitiligo are mucosal, focal, trichome and universal vitiligo.
Symptoms of Vitiligo:
Vitiligo can start at any age, but it usually makes its first appearance before thirty. Some of the most common symptoms of vitiligo are:
1. Loss of skin color in patches starts appearing on the face, hands, genitals and other areas around the body. Initially these patches are pale and they gradually turn to white. A number of people tend to feel an itch before the patches occur.
2. Premature whitening or graying of the hair on the scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes and facial hair. The hair can also turn white in a patchy manner.
3. Loss of hearing. When a person has vitiligo, the body attacks melanocytes, and if those inside the ear are attacked, hearing loss can occur.
4. Change in eye color can be seen. If vitiligo affects the eyes, the eye color can change too. The process is quick and can also affect eyesight.
Causes of Vitiligo:
Vitiligo occurs when melanocytes die or stop producing melanin (a pigment which gives color to the skin, hair and eyes). With no, or not enough melanocytes, the skin becomes paler, and eventually turns white. Some common causes of vitiligo are:
When a human body’s immune system starts attacking the body’s healthy cells and tissues it is called an autoimmune disorder. An example of an autoimmune disorder is non-segmental vitiligo, where the immune system reduces the number of melanocytes, or destroys them completely.
- Family history: Vitiligo is a hereditary disease, which means if someone in your family has vitiligo it can trickle down in your DNA too.
- Neurochemicals: Neurochemicals released from the nerve endings in the skin can be poisonous to melanocytes, leading to unilateral vitiligo.
- Other causes of vitiligo can be suffering from stressful events, severe skin damage like cuts or severe sunburn, and exposure to harmful chemicals.
If your vitiligo is severe, and is causing a negative impact on your personality and mental health, consider visiting a Dermatologist in Islamabad for treatment. Some common treatments for vitiligo are:
- Steroid creams: These creams/ ointments help restore the skin’s pigment. The downside of using steroid creams is they can cause side effects like stretch marks, and thinning of the skin.
- Phototherapy: This treatment uses UVB to treat vitiligo patches. It takes one to three months for the skin to show a difference after this treatment.
- Depigmentation: This therapy uses a depigmenting agent that needs to be applied to the unaffected areas of the skin. It works by lightening unaffected areas enough to match with the affected areas.
- Surgery: There are two surgical procedures that can help treat vitiligo. One is skin graft and the other one is cell transplant.
However, when receiving the treatment for vitiligo it is important to understand that these treatments are not everlasting. Also the treatment does not stop the condition from spreading but these treatments do make the appearance of your skin better.