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Vitiligo is a long-term problem in which growing patches of skin lose their color. It can affect people of any age, gender, or ethnic group.
Vitiligo is a skin condition in which patches of skin loses their color.
The total area of skin that can be affected by vitiligo varies between individuals. It can also affect the eyes, the inside of mouth, and the hair. In most cases, the affected areas remain discolored for the rest of the person’s life.
The condition is photosensitive. This means that the areas that are affected will be more sensitive to sunlight than those that are not.
It is hard to predict whether the patches will spread, and by how much. The spread might take weeks, or the patches might remain stable for months or years.
The lighter patches tend to be more visible in people with dark or tanned skin.
• Vitiligo can affect people of any age, gender, or ethnicity.
• There is no cure, and it is usually a lifelong condition.
• The exact cause is unknown, but it may be due to an autoimmune disorder or a virus.
• Vitiligo is not contagious.
• Treatment options may include exposure to UVA or UVB light and depigmentation of the skin in severe cases.
The AAD recommend using a sunscreen, because the lighter patches of skin are especially sensitive to sunlight and they can burn easily. A dermatologist can advise on a suitable type.
Phototherapy with UVB light
Exposure to ultraviolet B (UVB) lamps is a common treatment option. Home treatment requires a small lamp and allows for daily use, which is more effective.
If the treatment is done in a clinic, this will need 2 to 3 visits a week and the treatment time will be longer.
If there are white spots across large areas of the body, UVB phototherapy may be used. This involves full-body treatment. It is done in a hospital.
UVB phototherapy, combined with other treatments, can have a positive effect on vitiligo. However, the result is not totally predictable, and there is still no treatment that will fully re-pigment the skin.
Phototherapy with UVA light
UVA treatment is usually conducted in a health care setting. First, the patient takes a drug that increases the skin’s sensitivity to UV light. Then, in a series of treatments, the affected skin is exposed to high doses of UVA light.
Progress will be evident after 6 to 12 months of twice-weekly sessions.
In cases of mild vitiligo, the patient can camouflage some of the white patches with colored, cosmetic creams and makeup. They should select tones that best match their skin features.
If creams and makeup are correctly applied, they can last 12 to 18 hours on the face and up to 96 hours for the rest of the body. Most topical applications are waterproof.
When the affected area is widespread, covering 50 percent of the body or more, depigmentation can be an option. This reduces the skin color in unaffected parts to match the whiter areas.
Depigmentation is achieved by applying strong topical lotions or ointments, such as monobenzone, mequinol, or hydroquinone.
The treatment is permanent, but it can make the skin more fragile. Long exposure to the sun must be avoided. Depigmentation can take 12 to 14 months, depending on factors such as the depth of the original skin tone.
What is Vitiligo?
Vitiligo is a skin disorder where skin looses it color pigment called melanin. There may either be destruction of melanin or loss of melanin pigments.
What is leucoderma?
Leucoderma and vitiligo practically mean the same. Leuco= white and derma= skin. While patches on skin is called leucoderma. However, every case of leucoderma may not be vitiligo. Leucoderma is a term more commonly used in Asian countries.
No one in my family has vitiligo. How did I get it?
One can get vitiligo even if no one in the family has or had vitiligo. Most patients of vitiligo have family history of one of the autoimmune diseases such as Vitiligo, diabetes, hypothyroid, alopecia areata, cancer, etc., which is suggestive of genetic link. Many times patients may not be fully aware of the relevant family history.
How serious is vitiligo?
Vitiligo is NOT a serious disease.
Is vitiligo infectious? Can others touch me if I have vitiligo?
Vitiligo does not spread by touch. It is not caused by any germs such as bacteria or virus. It is 100% safe to touch one who has vitiligo. It is a sign of ignorance if one avoids touching the person who has vitiligo.