Vitiligo is a skin condition which leads to the development of visible white patches on the skin. It can be located anywhere on the body- arms, legs, face etc. It is caused due to the loss of melanin from the affected areas. Melanin is the primary pigment responsible for giving skin its natural colour. Without melanin, a loss of colour generates whitish or pinkish patches over the affected areas.

Melanin is lost in vitiligo due to the destruction of melanocytes- which are the cells that produce colour pigments of the skin. Vitiligo is a rare condition, and affects around 2% of the world’s total population. There is no exact reason which brings a deficiency in melanocytes, and vitiligo could be an autoimmune disease or caused by heredity. It is more evident in dark skinned patients.

Vitiligo can be caused because of a family history, as mentioned before. Diabetics are also prone to vitiligo. Patients who suffer from autoimmune diseases are at risk of vitiligo. Autoimmune diseases cause the immune system to invade internal cells, instead of foreign harmful disease causing cells.

Vitiligo can affect a person of any race, gender, or age. It is not a contagious disease.

There are various signs which point to developing vitiligo on the skin-

  • Premature greying of hair on the head, facial hair, eyebrows and eyelashes.
  • Patchy white marks on the skin.
  • Loss/ change in retina colour.
  • Loss of colour in mucous membranes.

Vitiligo is a lifelong skin disease, and there is no permanent cure for it. Certain treatment options are available for minor vitiligo cases, or for making the white marks less apparent. However, it is very difficult to completely cure vitiligo. Doctors are often unable to predict the growth rate or intensity of the formation of white patches over the skin. They can reduce as well as increase with time naturally.

  • Using sunscreen is highly recommended for vitiligo patients, as the affected areas are very photosensitive.
  • Exposure to UVA and UVB rays under the supervision of a qualified doctor can lead to some success in reducing the apparent white patches on skin. However, results vary across patients.
  • Mild vitiligo patients can use cosmetics to camouflage the affected areas.
  • Usage of ‘corticosteroids’ via creams can stop the spreading of white patches over the skin. This cannot be used on the face by patients.
  • Depigmentation can be a treatment option for severe vitiligo patients. Under this process, the unaffected parts of skins are depigmented with strong ointments to match the affected areas.



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