Characteristics of vitiligo

This article was endorsed by Errachid El Fadel - Medical intern at University Hospital IBN Rochd Casablanca

Natural medicine for vitiligo

What is vitiligo?

Chantelle-Brown-Young is a very famous model with vitiligo. (Photo Instagram)

Vitiligo or leukoderma is a non-contagious disorder of the skin characterized by the destruction of melanocytes, which are the cells that produce melanin, the pigment that gives the skin its color. The loss of melanin causes the appearance of a series of white spots.

The white areas have clearly marked edges of normal skin color. Although they can occur anywhere in the body, they primarily arise in certain areas: face – around the mouth, eyes or nose – top of the hands, around the nails, elbows, ankles, knees, English, navel, armpits genitals and mammary areola.

They usually symmetrically affect both parts of the body, but they can only affect one. They can occur in anyone of any race. It is a very common condition that affects 1% of the population. It usually appears before 20 years of age or after 50.

Types of vitiligo

The main types of vitiligo are:

  • Universal: When stains are almost everywhere in the body.
  • Generalized: When the spots are in a disorganized manner throughout the body.
  • Acrofacial: When affecting the area around the mouth and fingers and toes.
  • Symmetric: When they affect symmetrically to both sides.
  • Segmental: When they occur unilaterally.
  • Focused: When they affect one or few places in the body.

Symptoms of vitiligo

The main symptoms of vitiligo are:

  • Appearance of white patches on the skin, white patches on the face, upper hand, around the nails, elbows, ankles, knees, English, navel, armpits, genitals and around the nipples.
  •  Purple or dark yellow plaques on the mucous membranes and around the eyes, mouth and nostrils.
  •  Inflammation of the uvea or iris pigment layer. (Uveitis)
  •  Increased sun sensitivity.
  •  Premature graying of hair.

Causes of vitiligo

No one knows exactly what causes are producing this disorder, although several possibilities are pointed out:

Genetic Causes: People with a family history who suffer or have suffered the same problem are up to 40% more likely to develop the disorder.

  • Reaction of autoimmunity. It is the hypothesis that seems more appropriate today. According to it, the very body reacts against the melanocytes like destroying an external agent. This point is supported by the fact that vitiligo usually coincide with other autoimmune diseases such as hypothyroidism or pernicious anemia.
  • Nervous causes: Certain nerve cells could produce toxins that destroy the melanocytes. This theory is based on the fact that it often present discolored areas
  • Nutritional deficiencies: vitiligo has been associated with lack of vitamins, minerals or enzymes.
  • Lack of vital energy?: This hypothesis is defended by Eastern philosophies who believe that the absence of body force is responsible for this disorder as it is also responsible for developing gray hair. It is a position that other experts do not defend as people with gray hair or vitiligo do not enjoy a lower overall health to other people.

Vitiligo triggering factors

Besides these causes, other factors could be aggravating triggering factors. Among them the following have been mentioned:

  • Stress can accelerate or precipitate its onset. The state of anxiety or stress can trigger the reactivation of depigmentation after a period in which the person concerned had no progress in the disorder.
  • Friction with an affected area may aggravate their condition.

Evolution of vitiligo

Evolution may be different for each person. It can develop in a progressive manner. It can stop and remain stable for a while to re-grow or even be completely cured.

Consequences of vitiligo

Vitiligo causes loss of color in certain areas of the skin. Although it does not affect the general health, it has a number of implications for the sufferer, such as:

people at the beach
People with vitiligo should be extremely cautious with sun exposure
  • Greater care to sun exposure: Lack of solar pigmentation in certain areas of the skin requires people who suffer it to be more careful about being exposed to sunlight. Being unprotected of skin melanin, it is easier to get sunburnt and to develop skin cancers. It is important to avoid the sun at times of greatest radiation, covering the discolored areas or protecting them with the best sunscreens. The rest of the body should also be protected from sunlight to prevent the stain from spreading.
  • Increased personal and health control: The best chance of occurrence of skin lesions requires the person concerned to monitor the development of depigmented areas and the possible appearance of other spots or lesions. This control is important to act quickly if ulcers or tumors appear on the skin. Early diagnosis in the latter case can lead to a treatment in the early stages of development, with a greater chance of cure.
  • Psychological problems: The spots may be responsible for the occurrence of psychological problems in the person who suffers it. This is especially true in people with darker skin where the contrast between the spots and the rest of the skin is much higher.
  • Graying hair: the hair usually included in the depigmented areas remains the same color, but sometimes it also undergoes a process of discoloration and graying. The appearance of gray hairs in areas affected by vitiligo is called poliosis.

Diagnostics and treatment of vitiligo

At the onset of the symptoms described above, it is recommended to go to the doctor or specialist as soon as possible. Vitiligo is a condition easily diagnosed and the doctor can diagnose it simply with a physical examination.

There is no definitive treatment for vitiligo, but there are medications that can help stimulate melanin formation or slow the discoloration. Among the main drugs that are commonly used, we can consider corticosteroids, ultraviolet light therapy or immunosuppressive drugs.

There is the possibility to cover the affected area with healthy skin grafted from other parts of the body.

Another possibility is to de-pigment the healthy skin of the whole body to attain a similar color. This treatment only applies in extreme cases for adults and is not reversible.

Natural treatment of vitiligo

The natural treatment of vitiligo implies the use of a series of natural resources that can prevent this disease or improve its symptoms.

punto rojo More information on another skin problems

Written by Editorial Botanical-online team in charge of content writing

21 July, 2020

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