Vitiligo - Causes and Treatments

What is Vitiligo?

Vitiligo is an autoimmune disorder where your body attacks your own pigment cells. The pigment cells create melanin, the skin's pigment, which colors one's skin and protects against harmful UV rays. Without it, the skin may appear whiter or lighter in color. Vitiligo isn't harmful, but it can cause psychological stress on top of cosmetic insecurities. A dermatologist can help slow or even stop onset with certain medications, but restoring skin color is the complicated part. Consult a dermatologist to evaluate all your options. 

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Photos


Vitiligo on a person's hands Vitiligo on a person's feet. Vitiligo on Hands

Symptoms

On the onset, the disease shows up in a patchy loss of skin color but tends to spread over the skin surface over time, changing the skin pigment on its way. It can happen anywhere on the body. 

Vitiligo may appear in the following forms:

  • Generalized form – skin pigment deteriorates in patches all over the body, but prefer to settle down on the neck, face, scalp, and around orifices; it is the prevalent appearance
  • Segmental form – accounts for only 10% of the affected population; appears in smaller patches mostly on one side or part of the body.

Causes

Vitiligo is an autoimmune disorder where one's immune system attacks its own melanocytes. Melanocytes are pigment-creating cells that give the skin its color by releasing the pigment, melanin. 

The most well-known vitiligo causes are listed below:

  • Family history of vitiligo
  • Stress
  • Exposure to harmful chemicals
  • Sunburns

Treatment

Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for vitiligo. Treatment focuses on restoring the natural skin color and stopping or slowing further discoloration. The treatment options include conservative therapy and surgery, or a combination of both. However, people may respond to the same treatment options differently. Several options may temporarily assist in managing your symptoms:

  • Cosmetics
  • Sunscreen
  • Managing emotional stress

The best thing you can do to really improve is to present with your symptoms to a dermatologist. Only an experienced doctor can make a difference in treating vitiligo.

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Post Treatment Prevention

Stress is very harmful to your health and can exasperate various diseases like vitiligo. Learning techniques to lower your stress level will significantly reduce the chance of contracting vitiligo. If you can't imagine life without sunbathing or tanning, make sure that you apply enough high-quality sunscreen.

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