1.What is Vitiligo?
Vitiligo disease is a skin disorder where areas of skin lose their natural color and turn milky-white in colour. This happens when the skin cells that produce color are attacked and get destroyed, and thus, is a long-lasting chronic condition.
Vitiligo is said to most likely be an autoimmune disease. This is due to the fact that in immune diseases, the cells of immunity attack the healthy tissues of the body instead of the viruses and bacteria it has to be protected from.
Sometimes, vitiligo runs in the family and could also be hereditary. While there is no certain cure for vitiligo, undergoing treatment can help the skin tone appear a bit more natural than it has turned out to be.
The one main symptom of this skin condition is loss of natural color in the skin. The patches may appear on any part of the body. Some of the most common patches that appear are:
- On the skin of Hands, feet, face and arms- can appear as milky white patches
- Hair – can turn white due to the skin patch. Usually on the eyebrow, eyelash and scalp
- The inside of your nose and mouth
Sometimes, vitiligo may also affect the eyes and ears of the person. Additionally, since it is a skin disorder, it may affect the way one looks and feels about themselves, in turn affecting their mental health and self confidence.
While the exact cause of vitiligo may not be found yet, it could be an autoimmune disease in which the immune system of the body attacks and destroys its own skin cells that produce color. A lot of the time, family history and genes may also be an underlying cause for vitiligo.
Adding on, it is also found that at times a severe sunburn or skin contact with a strong chemical could start the appearance of vitiligo on your skin. Lesser known fact is that a stressful life event can mess with the functioning of your body, destroying your own skin cells causing vitiligo.
2.Who is at risk of vitiligo?
Vitiligo can affect anyone at any point of time in his or her life. For most of the people, symptoms of the white patch starts showing up before the age of 20 years itself.
It is likely to affect people with family history of vitiligo more. It could also affect people with family history of other autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.
You can visit a dermatologist or vitiligo specialist when you start seeing symptoms of this disease on your skin. Firstly, the doctor will do a complete examination of your family history and past and followed by a physical exam. A special tool that shines black light on your skin may be used to determine the severity of the disease.
Blood tests and an eye check up is also a part of the vitiligo test. You might also be required to take a sample of your skin to examine more deeply under a microscope.
3.How is vitiligo treated?
Most of the time, the vitiligo treatment is done only to reduce the appearance of the disease on your skin. Vitiligo doctors do this to:
- Slow down the process of the skin disease
- Aid in growing back the skin cells that produce color
- Bring back your natural skin color to the places of the patches
You may not always get the results you want from the treatment, it differs from one person to another and the types of vitiligo. New patches of vitiligo may also form and you may need continuous and multiple treatments to show better results.
Treatments can include:
- Medicines for vitiligo such as medicated skin creams, which may aid in slightly reforming the color of your natural skin
- Light therapy on your skin
- Removal of color from darker areas of the skin on your body in order to slightly even out the vitiligo patches – however, this is done only for people with the skin disease on most part of their body
- You could look into surgery if none of the other treatments work
Our highly experienced dermatologists and skin specialists at Carefit can guide you with the diagnosis and treatment of vitiligo. It is important that you consult a doctor as soon as you notice the symptoms and prevent it from spreading further.