Vitiligo is a chronic skin problem, which causes the loss of skin colour resulting in white and uneven patches. These blotches can appear anywhere on the skin. Vitiligo problem occurs when melanocytes cells die. Melanocytes are the cells within the skin, which provides skin with its original colour and protect it from ultraviolet rays. Vitiligo can affect people of any age and there is no permanent cure for this skin condition, but treatment can help to stop it spreading to the other parts of the body. The patches once appear may never go for the rest of the life. There are more than 1 million cases of vitiligo every year in the India. However, vitiligo is not a contagious disorder.
Causes of Vitiligo
The prime cause of vitiligo is the death of melanocytes, the skin cells. Melanin is the pigment produced by the melanocytes, which gives skin its original color. When melanocytes are, destroyed, skin tends to lose its original colour as a result, there is a formation of large and uneven patches on the skin. However, the exact cause of death of skin cells is yet to be determined. Some possible causes of vitiligo:
Appearance of uneven white patches and the high degree of de-pigmentation on the various parts of the body is an only symptom of vitiligo. The skin starts to lose its colour first from hands, arms, feet, lips, and face. As the condition, progresses a patient may also start to see white patches around the armpits, eyes, abdomen area, and nostrils. The skin also loses its ability to protect it from ultraviolet rays, which can cause excessive sunburn. If, vitiligo is left untreated, it may lead to the development of skin cancer.
Diagnosis of Vitiligo
Before starting the treatment, diagnosis of vitiligo is done to know the severity of this skin condition. A skin doctor may perform a physical examination and asks patients about their medical history and other questions such as when did condition started or is patient allergic to anything. The diagnostic test for vitiligo includes:
There are various medicines and procedures for the treatment of vitiligo. A dermatologist will choose the best combination of medicines and procedures for the treatment of patients with vitiligo. The treatment of vitiligo can help in the reduction of white spots on the skin. Some treatments of vitiligo are listed below.
Re-pigmentation- The colour of skin can be revived using re-pigmentation. The re-pigmentation treatment includes many methods such as grafting, dyes, micro-pigmentation, phototherapy, and creams with specific compounds, which are beneficial for the skin.
Narrow band phototherapy- Involves the use of laser for minimising the visibility of white patches.
De-pigmentation- This treatment is, done when there is a considerable affected area. De-pigmentation removes the skin pigment from the other unaffected areas of the body in order to match the whiter area. This is a long-term procedure and makes take up to one year before completion.