Vitiligo is a skin disease with white areas caused by loss of pigments in the skin and with no known exact cause. Any area of the body may be affected with most oftenly face, lips, hands, arms, legs and genital areas. It’s seen in 1% of the world population and affects males, females and all races equally.
Vitiligo; affects 1 or 2 individuals out of 100 patients; while it can be seen at all ages from infancy to old ages, it begins before the age of 20 in half of the patients and 20 % of the patients have family backgrounds.
Vitiligo is not caused by any internal organ disease; for this reason many patients’ general state of health is good. Vitiligo is not contagious.
The pigment called as melanin determines skin, hair and eye color and is produced in cells called melanocytes. If these cells die or cannot produce melanin, skin gets a lighter-colored state or becomes fully white. It’s not exactly known what causes this.
In vitiligo, the body makes autoantibodies against its’ own melanocytes and damages them; same autoantibodies may cause damage in other organs such as thyroid. For this reason, there may be other autoimmune diseases which may occur simultaneously with vitiligo. Vitiligo may be triggered by sunburn. While the difference between areas with vitiligo and normal skin in light skinned people becomes more apparent at summer, vitiligo is more noticeable for the whole year in darker skinned people.
White areas occurring on the skin may be seen not only in vitiligo but also in other diseases. Distinguishing diagnoses of these white areas is made by a dermatologist. If necessary, skin biopsy can be taken for a definitive diagnoses but most of the time diagnoses can be made clinically by the look of white areas.
Vitiligo is a curable disease but results of cure may show personal differences as its’ cause is not known exactly. There are different treatment options and these must be practiced at least for 3 months. Treatment of choice should absolutely be decided with a dermatologist.
Do not apply any treatment that are said to be herbal (pills or creams) but not approved by the Ministry of Health and do consult your doctor in all conscience.