Vitiligo is a chronic skin disease characterized by the appearance of spots of variable length and irregular edges in areas of the skin (achromic macules). It is not contagious but it does affect the self-esteem of those who suffer from it.
The macules appear from the destruction of the melanocytes, the cells that produce the melanin that pigments the skin and hair. They can appear anywhere on the skin but are usually more frequent around the mouth, anus, armpits, around the nails, in the areolas of the breast, in the genitals and the elbows and knees. It is more frequent in people with autoimmune diseases. It affects approximately one to two percent of the world population and usually appears before the age of 20.
Hereditary or Possible Autoimmune cause
The specific cause of vitiligo is unknown. It is believed to be hereditary if there is a history of cases of vitiligo in the family, which may be the cause of an autoimmune disease such as some thyroid disorders, stress, exposure to industrial chemicals, or a sunburn.
Types of Vitiligo:
Non-segmental vitiligo: It can be Acrofacial; affects the face, head, hands, and feet.
Mucosal; involves the mucosa of the mouth and genitalia.
Generalized; it is in any part of the body.
Universal; It is on almost the entire surface of the skin.
Segmental Vitiligo: Macules are on one part of the body.
Depigmentation of the skin is the main symptom, achromic macules may appear irregularly on the skin, premature graying of the beard, hair, and eyebrows. Color change in the inner layer of the eyeball or inside the mouth and nose.
Wood Skin and Light Biopsy
Normally the diagnosis is simple, but when there are doubts, the symptoms of other diseases such as psoriasis can not be ruled out. The dermatologist may also request a blood test, a biopsy of the affected skin, or perform a test under Wood’s light; ultraviolet light that can penetrate into the dermis and can diagnose some pigmentary diseases.
Vitiligo Treatment and Medication
There is no specific treatment to stop it, but the reference is usually to apply corticosteroid cream treatment to the affected area. A skin graft surgery can also be considered by removing parts of normal skin to replace the areas with macules.
Protect the Skin
There is no specific prevention, but it is usually recommended to use sunscreen on the affected skin and, for anyone, always protect the skin from sun exposure with a highly protective sun protection factor cream.