Vitiligo is a disease that causes the loss of skin colour in blotches. The extent and rate of colour loss from vitiligo is unpredictable. It can affect the skin on any part of your body. It may also affect the hair and the inside of the mouth.
Normally, the colour of hair and skin is determined by melanin. Vitiligo occurs when the cells that produce melanin die or stop functioning. Vitiligo affects people of all skin types, but it may be more noticeable in people with darker skin. The condition is not life-threatening or contagious. It can be stressful or make you feel bad about yourself.
Treatment for vitiligo may restore colour to the affected skin. But it does not prevent continued loss of skin colour or a recurrence.
The main sign of vitiligo is patchy loss of skin colour. Usually, the discolouration first shows on sun-exposed areas, such as the hands, feet, arms, face and lips.
Vitiligo signs include:
- Patchy loss of skin colour
- Premature whitening or greying of the hair on your scalp, eyelashes, eyebrows or beard
- Loss of colour in the tissues that line the inside of your mouth and nose (mucous membranes)
- Loss of or change in colour of the inner layer of the eyeball (retina)
Vitiligo can start at any age but often appears before age 20.
Depending on the type of vitiligo you have, the discoloured patches may cover:
- Many parts of your body. With this most common type, called generalized vitiligo, the discoloured patches often progress similarly on corresponding body parts (symmetrically).
- Only one side or part of your body. This type, called segmental vitiligo, tends to occur at a younger age, progress for a year or two, then stop.
- One of only a few areas of your body. This type is called localized (focal) vitiligo.
It’s difficult to predict how your disease will progress. Sometimes the patches stop forming without treatment. In most cases, pigment loss spreads and eventually involves most of your skin. Rarely, the skin gets its colour back.
What causes vitiligo?
[The cause is not known. Vitiligo may be an autoimmune disease. These diseases happen when your immune system mistakenly attacks some part of your own body. In vitiligo, the immune system may destroy the melanocytes in the skin. It is also possible that one or more genes may make a person more likely to get the disorder.
Some researchers think that melanocytes destroy themselves. Others think that a single event such as sunburn emotional distress can cause vitiligo. But these events have not been proven to cause vitiligo.
Who is affected by vitiligo?
Many people develop it in their twenties, but it can occur at any age. The disorder affects all races and both sexes equally, however, it is more noticeable in people with dark skin.
People with certain autoimmune diseases (such as hyperthyroidism) are more likely to get vitiligo than people who don’t have any autoimmune diseases. Scientists do not know why vitiligo is connected with these diseases. However, most people with vitiligo have no other autoimmune disease.
Vitiligo may also run in families. Children whose parents have the disorder are more likely to develop vitiligo. However, most children will not get vitiligo even if a parent has it.
Homoeopathic treatment is the safest and best for its permanent cure.