Vitiligo: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

Vitiligo is an enigma in which developing patches of skin lose their color. It can attack people of any age, gender, or tribe.

Vitiligo can affect any part of the skin, but it usually appears on the neck, hands, and face. This happens when the cells that create the skin pigment [melanocytes], are damaged.

In case you’re in the beginning stage of vitiligo or have had it for a while, it’s important to know the causes, symptoms, and treatment options that are available. Keep reading to know all about it.

Vitiligo: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

What Is Vitiligo?

Vitiligo is a skin condition in which patches of skin loses color.

The total range of skin that can be influenced by vitiligo ranges between people. It can affect the eyes, mouth, and hair. In most instances, the damaged areas stay discolored for the rest of the person’s life.

The skin condition is photosensitive. This means that the areas that are damaged will be more susceptible to light than those that are not.

It is difficult to foresee whether the patches will spread, and how much they would. The spread might take weeks, or it might remain steady for months.

Types Of Vitiligo

There are two types of vitiligo, which include:

  • non-segmental and
  • segmental.

1. Non-segmental Vitiligo

non-segmental vitiligo

If the white patches are symmetrical, this implies a type of vitiligo recognized as non-segmental vitiligo. The growth will be more moderate if the patches are only in one area of the body.

Non-segmental vitiligo is the most regular type of vitiligo.

Common areas the patches appear:

  • mouth
  • arms
  • neck
  • hands
  • eyes
  • knees
  • genitals and rectal area
  • feet
  • armpit and groin
  • nose
  • navel
  • elbows

2. Segmental Vitiligo

Segmental vitiligo

Segmental vitiligo develops more quickly but is deemed more stable and less random than the non-segmental type. This type of vitiligo is not very common.

Segmental vitiligo normally affects areas of skin connected to the nerves originating in the hind roots of the spine.

What Causes Vitiligo?

Vitiligo is caused by the absence of a pigment called melanin in the skin. Melanin is created by skin cells called melanocytes, and it gives the skin its colour.

In vitiligo, there are not just enough functioning melanocytes to create enough melanin in your skin. This causes white patches to form on your skin. Here other causes of vitiligo:

1. Auto-immune Conditions

Non-segmental vitiligo is an auto-immune condition. In auto-immune conditions, the system does not work properly. Instead of combating foreign cells, such as viruses, your immune system attacks your body’s healthy cells.

2. Risk Factors

You may be in danger of developing non-segmental vitiligo if:

  • different members of your household have it
  • you have changes in your genes that are perceived to be linked to non-segmental vitiligo
  • if your family have any history of auto-immune condition
  • you have melanoma or non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

3. Neurochemicals

Segmental vitiligo is believed to be caused by chemicals discharged from the nerve endings in your skin. These chemicals are toxic to the melanocyte skin cells.

4. Triggers

It’s possible that vitiligo may be triggered by particular events, such as:

  • stressful events
  • skin damage, such as harsh cut or sunburn
  • susceptibility to certain chemicals

An Infection does not cause vitiligo, so you cannot get it from someone else that has it.

What Are The Symptoms Of Vitiligo?

The areas of the skin mostly affected by vitiligo include:

  • mouth and eyes
  • groin
  • genitals
  • armpits
  • inside your mouth
  • fingers and wrists

Vitiligo usually starts as a pale patch on the skin that slowly turns entirely white. The middle of the patch may be white, with lighter skin around it. If there are blood vessels below the skin, the patch may be light pink.

The sides of the patch may be regular or irregular. They’re seldom red and swollen, or there’s brownish discolouration.

Vitiligo does not cause pain to your skin but the patches may sometimes be itchy.

The situation differs from person to person. Some people only get a few white patches, while others get larger white patches on the skin.

Treatment For Vitiligo

Vitiligo is a health issue that needs medical attention. Although there is no cure for vitiligo but there are remedies that can help minimize the visibility of the condition.

Prescription cream and ointments can be used for the treatment. These creams might not be ideal for children or some adults because their skin might be sensitive. Photochemotherapy can also be used to treat vitiligo, you may need to repeat the therapy treatments up to three times a week for at least six months.

Skin lightening can be done to match the patches of color loss. This treatment is prescribed only if the pigmentation losses are wide, and if other methods have failed. You can also use cosmetics to cover up the patches.

Ginkgo biloba {a herbal treatment} can also be used as an alternative treatment.

The complication to any of the above treatments is that new depigmented patches may still show up. Be sure to work with your doctor to decide the best vitiligo treatment or management plan for you.

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While there’s no cure for vitiligo, treatments can help decrease the development of the disease. There are also techniques you can use to cover up rough patches so you can feel more self-confident in your skin.


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