Vitiligo or Leucoderma is skin condition leading to the development of white patches on the skin because of the loss of melanocytes. Melanocytes are cells which are responsible for producing the skin pigment known as melanin which gives colour to the skin and it also protects from the ultraviolet rays. Usually, the colour of hair and skin is formed by melanin. When the cells that produce melanin stop producing melanin, it results in the appearance of white spots and patches. The vitiligo is neither contagious nor life-threatening. It can be stressful, can have a psychosocial impact and cosmetic concerns. Vitiligo can affect the large areas (generalized), limited areas (localized), fingertips and lips (lip-tip vitiligo) or the mucosal surfaces such as the lips or the genitalia (mucosal vitiligo). Vitiligo can occur on any part of the body, including face, trunk, elbows, knees, hands, and feet. Vitiligo can be classified as:
- Non-segmental Vitiligo – The non-segmental or generalized vitiligo is the most common type of vitiligo which affects both sides of the body. Patches can be seen all over the body.
- Segmental Vitiligo – White patches are present only on one half of the body, and it is mostly seen in children.
Causes of Vitiligo or What triggers vitiligo?Does stress cause vitiligo? The exact reason why vitiligo occurs is still unknown. Following factors are implicated in its causation:
- An autoimmune disorder like thyroid disorders
- Few viral infections
- Contact with some harmful irritant chemical
- Neural disorders
- A trigger event, such as stress, severe sunburn or skin trauma
Is vitiligo genetic or heredity?Sometimes it runs in families as Heredity or genetic disorder.
Symptoms of vitiligo/ What does vitiligo look like when it first starts?
- The main symptom is the white patches on the skin.
- These white patches are photosensitive, so, patients suffering from vitiligo should avoid exposure to direct sunlight for a prolonged period.
- The patches might increase (Progressive vitiligo) or can stabilize and do not grow for months (Stable vitiligo).
Can vitiligo be cured?There is no cure for vitiligo, and it is a lifelong condition.
Can we stop vitiligo from spreading?Yes, we can stop by following treatment options. Treatment include
- Topical corticosteroids
- Topical Immunomodulators- Ointments like tacrolimus can help with vitiligo patches.
- Phototherapy with NBUVB light
- Skin camouflage- The patient can also cover it up using makeup products and creams.
- Excimer laser-Multiple sessions of 308 nm excimer laser are required for good results.
- Surgical treatment- Surgeries like blister and punch grafting, is done for patients with stable disease for around six months