Vitiligo is a skin disorder in which patients develop white spots on the skin that vary in size and location. These spots occur when pigment cells called “melanocytes” are destroyed and the pigment melanin can no longer be produced. Pigment cells are present throughout the skin, hair, mouth, eyes and some part of the nervous system and they can be damaged or destroyed in any of these areas.
Vitiligo affects at least 1% of the population. About 30% of all Vitiligo patients say that other family members also have this condition. Even though most people with Vitiligo are in good general health, they face a greater risk of having hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, vitamin B12 deficiency, Addison’s disease (adrenal dysfunction), Alopecia areata (round patches of hair loss) and or uveitis (inflammation with the eyes).
About 50% of all Vitiligo patients develop the disease in childhood/adolescence before the age of 20. Although largely similar to the disease in adults, childhood Vitiligo is a distinct subset of Vitiligo with a higher incidence of family history of autoimmune or endocrine diseases, early or premature graying and poor response o topical PUVA.
The precise cause of Vitiligo is not known. A combination of genetic, immunological and neurogenic factors is of major importance in most cases. Trauma of any kind (physical, mechanical, chemical, emotional) too can trigger off the disease process. Stress is often implicated as a trigger factor.
Treatment is to try restore the pigment i.e repigmentation in the patches. However, one cannot predict the course and final outcome of this condition.
Different techniques such as surgical excision, dermabrassion, tattooing, punch grafting, split skin Grafting and transplantation of invitro cultured epidermis-bearing melanocytes, it is reserved for stable cases with few localized stubborn patches.
No, Vitiligo does not spread from one person to the other.
There are no particular dietary items that are known to cause or triggers Vitiligo.
Vitiligo is the dermatological term used. Leucoderma translates as white patches and could be due to reasons other than Vitiligo. Vitiligo is the dermatological term for white patches for autoimmune origin.
Stress has been scientifically proven through various studies as a trigger.
Patients should always protect their skin against excessive sun exposure. Vitiligo patients must avoid wearing artificial jewellery containing nickel, cobalt and other metals. Plastic slippers, bindies, hair dyes, fragrance can induce chemical Leucoderma. Patients should protect themselves against injury and friction on the skin.
Usually with continuous treatment and by doing a combination of treatments, a number of cases improve or clear. This may take a year or more. However there are certain stubborn areas like the tips of fingers and toes, lips, bony prominences that may take longer or not respond at all to treatment.
There is a lot of research going on regarding Vitiligo. “Stem Cell” therapy may change the way Vitiligo is treated. The future holds some promise.