Vitiligo consists of white patches of skin that are caused by the loss of melanin, the pigment that gives skin its colour. Melanin is produced by special cells called melanocytes, which are destroyed in people who have vitiligo.
Vitiligo can cause minor changes or extensive changes in the skin. In some people, it may be hardly noticeable, while in others it is obvious. In dark-skinned people the vitiligo patches are obvious since they contrast with normal skin. Light-skinned people may have fewer cosmetic concerns, but patches without pigment can become obvious in the summer because unaffected skin tans but vitiligo skin does not tan.
There is no conclusive evidence to suggest and understand why this disease occurs, but evidence strongly suggests that vitiligo is an autoimmune disorder, in which the body's immune system mistakenly targets and injures these specific cells within your own body.
People with vitiligo have an increased risk of developing certain diseases, such as hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid), hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid) and type 1 diabetes. Also, people with these conditions are at greater risk of developing vitiligo. These medical conditions are all problems that involve the immune system attacking cells in the body.
Vitiligo can be treated if it causes emotional or social distress. The goals of treatment are to minimise the contrast in colour between your normal skin and skin patches that have lost pigment. If you are light-skinned, part of your treatment may be to protect your normal skin from tanning by using sunscreens with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 15.
You can try to get normal skin colour to return in the areas affected by vitiligo have many treatment options. These include topical treatments, ultraviolet B light treatment, oral medicines, depigmentation and skin grafting.
For most people with vitiligo, this condition slowly worsens without treatment or needs continued treatment.
Read more articles on Vitiligo.
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