The pigment Melanin determines the color of human Skin. Vitiligo is one of the skin disorders which occur when the cells producing melanin die or stop functioning. In Vitiligo disease, white patches of skin appear on different body parts as well as also affect hair and the inside of the mouth. Vitiligo affects people of all skin types but it is more noticeable in people with darker skin. Vitiligo can occur at any age but mostly appears before age of 20.
Vitiligo is not a life-threatening and contagious skin disease but it affects individuals’ looks. Sometimes people suffering from vitiligo can experience nervousness and often seen less confidant especially in social gatherings. Vitiligo is not preventable and curable skin disease but the treatments can help to restore the color of affected skin.
Symptoms of Vitiligo
Symptoms of Vitiligo are easily visible. Main sign of vitiligo is white patches on the skin. Usually these white patches are more common on sun-exposed areas such as the hands, feet, arms, face and lips.
Vitiligo symptoms include:
• White patches on skin
• Premature whitening or graying of the hair on scalp, eyelashes, eyebrows or beard.
• Loss of color in the tissues inside the mouth and nose.
• Loss of color or change of color in the inner layer of the eyeball.
White patches occur on other common areas such as:
• The armpits and groin
• Around the mouth
• Rectal areas.
Causes of Vitiligo:
The exact cause of Vitiligo is still unknown. Common causes are:
• A disorder in which immune system attacks and destroys the melanocytes in the skin
• Family history
• Sunburn, stress or exposure to industrial chemicals
Diagnosis of Vitiligo
The doctor evaluates family and medical history of patient but there are also other methods such as physical examination and medical tests to diagnose Vitiligo.
• Medical history and examination
If doctor suspects of vitiligo problem then doctor ask about patient’s medical history, examine patient and try find out other medical problems, such as dermatitis or psoriasis. Doctor uses a special lamp to shine ultraviolet light onto the skin to confirm the vitiligo.
• Skin Biopsy
Doctor can also use skin biopsy method to determine Vitiligo. In this procedure, doctor takes small sample of affected skin to examine under microscope.
• Blood Test
In blood test, doctor takes blood of patient for laboratory testing to detect for underlying autoimmune conditions such as anemia or diabetes.
Treatment of Vitiligo
The main goal of treatment is to restore skin color. The most suitable type of treatment is depending on the various factors such as number of white patches and size of white patches. The treatment is not same for everyone. Most effective treatment options for vitiligo include medical, surgical and other treatments.
Medicines do not stop the process of Vitiligo but can restore skin tone. Some skin creams are used to control inflammation while some medicines are taken along with ultraviolet B (UVB) light for effective results.
The goal of surgery is to restore skin tone. Surgery is the best option if light therapy failed to give desired results.
• Skin Grafting
In this procedure, doctor removes small section of normal pigmented skin and attaches to affected area.
• Blister Grafting
In this procedure, doctor creates blisters on pigmented skin. Then doctor removes the tops of the blisters and transplants them to an affected areas.
In this technique, doctor uses a special surgical instrument to implant pigment into affected skin. Tattooing is the most effective treatment for people with darker complexions.
• Other Treatments
Other treatments include applying sunscream and makeup to cover white patches. Many time patients feel stressed, self-conscious, sad, ashamed and nervous due to changes in appearance. In such condition, Counseling plays an important role in boosting patient’s confidence level.
There are lots of myths and misunderstandings about Vitiligo disorder but people should not blindly believe, instead they should consult expert dermatologist for the effective treatment of Vitiligo.