Vitiligo is a disease that causes skin pigmentation loss in specific areas at a time. It frequently manifests as blotches of skin that have lost their color/pigment. The rate and extent of pigment loss are completely unpredictable. It can affect any part of the body, including hair and the inside of the mouth.
Melanin is responsible for skin and hair color. Vitiligo develops when the cells that produce melanin die or cease to function. Vitiligo can affect people of all skin colors, but it is more visible in people with darker skin. Although the condition is not life-threatening or contagious, many people may experience low self-esteem because it is difficult to conceal.
- Patchy loss of skin color.
- Loss of color on the outside of the mouth and nose.
- Change in color of the retina.
- Prematurely graying hair, on the scalp, eyelashes, eyebrows and beard.
It can appear all over the body or only in a few areas at a time, at any age; however, it most often occurs in individuals during their early to mid-20’s.
Vitiligo occurs when melanin-production cells die out or cease function. Melanin or pigment gives your hair, skin and nails their color. When they die out these areas will begin to turn white and lose all color. The true reasoning for this stop in function of melanin-producing cells is unknown however, it may be linked to:
- Genetic disorders in the family history
- An immune system disorder, destroying the melanocytes in those areas of the skin
- Over exposure to sun
- Certain reaction to life stresses
- Exposure to industrial chemicals
There is truly no cure for Vitiligo or way to stop the loss of melanocytes. But certain medications used in conjunction with laser and light therapy can help restore skin tone. In addition to these drugs creams, ointments, and skin grafting surgery are options however these are sometimes highly-invasive and may not produce the desired results. The most important thing to know is that people are still beautiful in their own individual ways, and your dermatologist can take steps to help you curb the aesthetics of the disease, using a combination of lasers, creams, and other topicals.