Vitiligo is a chronic skin condition where pale white patches begin to develop in areas with a lack of melanin. These patches can occur in any part of the body including the hair in the form of greyness. The condition begins to occur when the cells that produce melanin die or stop functioning and with time, can spread all over the body. Vitiligo is also considered as an autoimmune disease.
The edges of these patches may be irregular or smooth and can be red and inflamed. In the case of hyperpigmentation, these patches have a brownish discolouration.
Vitiligo’s symptoms usually appear before the age of 30. They can appear in 4 different versions:
- Universal Vitiligo: Appears all over the skin’s surface.
- Generalised Vitiligo: Appears nearly on all skin surfaces and the discoloured patches symmetrically progress over the body.
- Segmental Vitiligo: Appears on one side of the body and only progresses for 1-2 years. This type of vitiligo tends to occur at a young age.
- Focal Vitiligo: Appears only some parts of the body and is also known as localised vitiligo
- Acrofacial vitiligo: Appears only on the hands, face and body openings such as the eyes, nose and ears.
Vitiligo begins to appear in these body parts initially:
- Mouth (inner and outer)
- Hands and arms
Vitiligo often begins with the onset of some completely white patches over the skin. These patches are white in the corners and pale pink in the centre, if there are blood vessels present in This can be caused because of multiple reasons namely: the presence of a pre- autoimmune disease, genetics (presence of NLRP1 and PTPN22), trigger events such as stress and childbirth and neurochemicals.
Even though Vilitigo spots are permanent, there are some treatments for it. If the spots are light and small, they can be covered with camouflage and corticosteroid cream which can help return the colour of some patches in the early stages. Long time use of these creams can cause thinning, skin shrinkage, stretch marks and excessive hair growth.
Photochemotherapy is also an alternative to the creams. This process involves the skin being exposed to ultraviolet rays after consuming psoralen as a pill or by applying it to your skin as a cream. This procedure reduces the spots but in the long run, can cause hyperpigmentation, skinburns and nausea.
A more popular alternative to the creams is the process of UVB therapy where instead of the UVA ultraviolet light, UVB is used. UVB treatment doesn't require psoralen, therefore, eliminating some of the risk associated with Photochemotherapy. It can also be used as a home treatment process if advised by the doctor.