Wednesday, January 6

Vitiligo - skin disease - depigmentation - white skin patches

White spots on skin, lips, fingernails, teeth, tonsils and genitalia > Vitiligo white skin patches > Causes > Signs > Diagnosis - Treatment and cure > Recent research

Vitiligo is a skin disorder or disease in which there is loss of skin pigment resulting in white depigmentation patches.

What is vitiligo (leucoderma or leukoderma)?

Our skin color is due to the melanin pigment present in it. The melanin pigment is produced by specialised cells in the epidermis called melanocytes. The melanin pigment is formed into bundles called melanosomes and deposited in the epidermis.
Due to some physiological conditions there is stoppage of pigment production or death and loss of the pigment producing cells in patches and white areas of depigmentation occur.
This condition of loss of pigmentation is called vitiligo (leucoderma or leukoderma).

Causes for vitiligo disorder

Though the basic cause of this disease is the depigmentation of the skin there are divergent views, theories and research results pointing to many possible factors like physiological conditions, hereditary disorders, genetic disorders, environmental factors, thyroid disorders, psychological stress and autoimmune diseases.
For more details about the causes read the page ' causes for vitiligo disorders'.

Who can be affected by this condition of depigmentation?

Worldwide it is estimated that this condition of loss of skin pigment is affecting 1-2% of the population.
This disease affects all races and both genders and appears prominent in dark skinned people.
Persons with autoimmune disease and thyroid disorder are prone to get vitiligo disorder.
The chances for the immediate relatives of an affected person to get this disorder are greater.

Patterns and types of vitiligo disease

Three types of this loss of skin pigmentation, namely focal, segmental and nonsegmental vitiligo are observed.
In the focal form of the disorder, the white patches are restricted to one or a few areas.
In non-segmented form the white patches appear on both sides and somewhat show symmetry.
These white patches of skin grow over a period of time to spread all over the body.
If the depigmentation is total or only a few pigment patches remain, the condition is called as vitiligo universalis.
Segmental vitiligo disease affects younger individuals. The disorder affects some parts of the body and may not appear in symmetry.

Diagnosis of white skin patches

Vitiligo disease appear as white skin patches around orifices of the body like mouth, nostrils, eyes etc. They also appear on the end of the limbs like fingers and toes.
These white patches are irregular in shape and keep growing in most of the affected persons. For more detail about diagnosis of the disorder read 'Diagnosis of vitiligo disease'.

Therapy and treatment for vitiligo skin disease

There is a difference between the approach towards this disorder between the western medicine and the oriental medicine.
In oriental medicine the claim is that it is addressing the underlying cause of the disease.
There are number of ways to alter the appearance in the vitiligo skin disease affected.
The white vitiligo disease patches can be hidden by application of camouflage creams and skin dyes.
Further treatment methods for the disease like topical application, oral medicine, phototherapy, surgical grafts, repigmentation and treatment with melanocyte cultures are possible.
For detail information on treatment of this disorder read the page "Therapy and treatment of vitiligo disease".

Psychological and aesthetic aspects of the disorder of loss of skin pigment

Though this disease has no harmful effects on the body, it devastates the mental health of the affected person leading him to mood and depression disorders.
The loss of aesthetic appearance and being stigmatised for the condition ruins the self-esteem and emotional health of the person affected by the disorder.
Those affected by this disease are tormented sub-consciously about others reactions, feel ashamed, embarrassed and dejected and may become introverts.

Support groups for the vitiligo disease affected

Considering the psychological impact of this disorder all over the world, a number of organisations have come up to help out the affected by educating them and providing them advice, counsel and course of treatment for the disease.
These efforts are to save the affected from becoming a burden on the society just because of this harmless skin condition.

Research on pigmentation, depigmentation and repigmentation of this skin disorder

Wide spread research is going on to tackle this disorder. Methods for repigmentation of these white skin patches are already known and further research is going on .
If the vitiligo disorder has affected more than 50% area, a process for depigmentation of the rest of the skin pigment is now known. Further research is being carried out in this aspect of tackling vitiligo disease.
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