In the sphere of skin and its wellness, we often come across diseases and disorders that affect our skin health. One such common skin disorder among the population is Vitiligo. But what is Vitiligo? Vitiligo is a chronic skin disorder that leads skin to lose its pigmentation and colour. Vitiligo is known to be an autoimmune disorder.
In Vitiligo, these discoloured and white patches often get bigger, affecting and spreading across natural skin. Usually, the patches start appearing symmetrically on both sides of the body. Vitiligo may not be contagious but it can affect people regardless of their ages and genders.
The area affected by Vitiligo differs from person to person, and generally it is tough to predict whether this condition would spread, which it normally does, and how much skin will be affected in the process. In this blog, we will visit and determine all ends and parts of Vitiligo, discussing the types, symptoms, causes and treatments for the same. Keep reading to find out the vast concept of Vitiligo.
Types of Vitiligo
Much like many skin disorders and conditions, Vitiligo too comes in various types. The different types of Vitiligo is as follows:
- Segmental Vitiligo- It is the type of Vitiligo where the depigmentation and discolouration of skin happens rapidly. But it tends to eventually stabilise hence it is considered to be less erratic compared to the other types of Vitiligo. Segmental vitiligo generally affects specific areas of skin or just one part of the body like hands, spine, etc.
- Non-Segmental Vitiligo- This type of Vitiligo can be recognised if the white patches appear on a symmetrical pattern. Non-Segmental Vitiligo develops much slower compared to Segmental Vitiligo. The common reason behind their cause is because of exposure of face, neck or hands under the Sun. The most common areas that are affected in this type of Vitiligo are arms, eyes, knees, elbows, feet, mouth, armpit, nose, navel and so on.
Furthermore, Non-Segmental Vitiligo can be divided into even more sub categories such as:
- Generalised- Vitiligo white patches appear in various body parts without specification in this case. This is the most common case around the world.
- Acrofacial- Here, the patches appear mainly over the face, scalp, genital areas, fingers and toes.
- Mucosal– Appearance of Vitiligo patches can be seen around the mucous membrane and lips.
- Universal- In this case of Vitiligo, the discolouration covers most areas of the body. This case is seen on a rare basis.
- Focal- Vitiligo depigmentation happens in discrete regions of the body. This case mostly happens with the population of young children.
With that we come to the end of laying down the various types of Vitiligo that is found around the globe. Now let us dive into how you can recognise if one is affected by Vitiligo.
Symptoms of Vitiligo
Here are some basic and easy to understand symptoms that can be recognized to be caused by Vitiligo:
- One of the most common and first symptoms of Vitiligo is the discolouration and depigmentation of skin tone.
- Small white patches that slowly grow in size and spread across areas of the body.
- Body parts such as hands, knees, elbows, wrists, face and so on are affected in this case.
- Vitiligo is more visible on dark skin complexion than that of fairer skin, hence it is easily noticeable if occurrence takes place.
- Appearance of premature grey, silver or white patches in hair.
- Loss of colour in mucous membranes, that is around the mouth and nose area.
- People affected by Vitiligo may experience depression and show symptoms of other mood disorders.
There are generally no signs of irritation or discomfort in cases of Vitiligo conditions but there are very rare chances of itching, inflammation and swollen redness before the occurrence of a patch in a bodily region. And there you have it, the above mentioned symptoms are the way to recognise Vitiligo.
Causes of Vitiligo
Under this heading, we will discuss the many possibilities that are responsible for the cause of Vitiligo:
- Autoimmune Theory: Even though the exact reason behind the cause of Vitiligo still remains unknown, scientists strongly believe with their hypotheses that the immune system is where the primary root of the cause lies. It is believed that the immune systems sometimes recognise healthy cells (also known as melanocytes or the melanin responsible for our skin pigmentation) as foreign invaders such as bacteria and other particles that may harm your body, and tend to destroy these melanocytes in order to protect you. Hence, in the process the melanin present in your skin is killed, thus, the cause of discoloration of skin, known as Vitiligo.
- Genetic cause of Vitiligo – It is estimated that around 20% of the population affected by Vitiligo, often is related to a first degree relative who suffers from the same condition. Hence, it could be a disorder that is hereditary and one could inherit it potentially from their biological family’s DNA.
- Environmental factors that can trigger Vitiligo- UV rays of the Sun as well as the toxic chemicals and particles present in the environment can affect the functioning of melanocyte cells when exposed, therefore, can lead to Vitiligo.
- Emotional Distress- Suffering from emotional or physical stress on a frequent basis can reduce the production of pigment from melanocyte cells, leading to the cause Vitiligo over time.
Such factors often trigger Vitiligo, unknown to us, and cause its spread. But worry not, because now we will dive into the potential treatment methods to cure Vitiligo!
Treatment Options for Vitiligo
The condition of Vitiligo is often described as a cosmetic issue but it is more than that. It is a health problem in need of medical attention and that is why here are some treatments that are effective as a solution:
- Use of Sunscreen – Though sunscreen may not reduce the patches or permanently remove them, it is important to use because the patches of Vitiligo are very sensitive to sunlight, which can lead it to burn quickly under the sun. Hence a layer of sunscreen protection is always better, as per recommended by a dermatologist.
- Phototherapy – One of the most common treatments for Vitiligo, Phototherapy sessions include UVB broadband and narrowband lamps that the skin is exposed to for a specific time to improve re-pigmentation. Such treatments, due to its complex nature, are naturally carried out in a hospital clinic, for 2-3 times a week, until the patches fade away.
- Excimer Laser Treatment- This treatment is based on the concept of an UVB light beam laser that is directly focused on lightened areas of the body affected by Vitiligo, with the use of a wand-like equipment. This process stimulates repigmentation in skin cells, improving and restoring the skin to its natural tone.
- Surgical Interventions- While many people embrace the condition, some use methods like tattoos and skin grafts to cover the patches of Vitiligo. In case of tattoos, the patches get covered with micropigmentation which works best only around small areas of skin that are affected such as lips. While in case of skin grafts, the healthy patches of pigmented skin are surgically removed and used to cover affected regions.
These are the most used and effective solutions to Vitiligo and its reduction.
Recovery and Management of Vitiligo
- Psychological support and coping strategies: We are mostly unaware of this, but Vitiligo can affect one’s mental health too. The constant self consciousness and appearance of an affected person can deteriorate their self confidence and body image, that is why it is recommended for anyone who is affected to try out psychological interventions such as therapy and counselling.
- Lifestyle modifications and self-care practices: Some simple yet effective methods to maintain Vitiligo is the regular use of a sunscreen or any medication as per suggestions of a skin specialist , avoiding too much sun or light exposure, and practising meditations and other relaxation tactics to avoid stress.
- Camouflaging techniques and makeup options: While some people are comfortable with the appearance of Vitiligo, some are not. This may be a temporary fix but application of high coverage makeup products and skin camouflage creams would blend into the skin with the rest of the white patches, leaving the condition unnoticeable.
- Follow-up care and monitoring: Vitiligo can come back just as they can go, so it is important to protect your skin from possible triggers such as excess sun exposure, tanning beds or lamps and so on!
With all this by your side you can achieve a clear, Vitiligo free skin! It is very important to step up and leverage from the cures and technology available to treat Vitiligo. Re-Incarnation Skin Care Clinic by Dr. Priyanka Aggarwal houses a line of treatments and authentic solutions for Vitiligo and many other conditions.
Dr. Priyanka Aggarwal herself has expert experience in the field of dermatology and has previously treated many who were affected by Vitiligo to achieve their dream skin! You too can acquire your goal of healthy skin with Dr. Priyanka Aggarwal.
What are the causes of vitiligo?
Vitiligo can be caused due to sun exposure, genetics, stress and even due to the immune system.
Will vitiligo go away?
Yes, Vitiligo does go away but it can come back just as easily. Hence it is important to prioritise skin and self care after its treatment.
What are 3 symptoms of vitiligo?
Vitiligo can be recognised by symptoms such as premature greying of hair, lightened patches across skin and mood disorders like depression.
Who gets vitiligo?
Younger generation of people under the age of 20 can be affected with Vitiligo.
At what age does vitiligo start?
Vitiligo can arise before the age of 20 and generally during childhood years.
Is vitiligo a serious disease?
Vitiligo is a disorder that requires medical attention even though it does not cause physical harm or discomfort.
Is vitiligo caused by deficiency?
Patients with Vitiligo are often found with a Vitamin D Deficiency.
Does vitiligo spread across the body?
Yes, Vitiligo does spread across the body.
How do I stop vitiligo?
Treatments such as Phototherapy, Excimer Laser Treatment and so on are great solutions to cure Vitiligo.