Vitiligo is also known as leucoderma, is a relatively common skin disorder. It is characheterized by white spots or patches that appear on the skin. The condition is caused by non-production of pigments (either destroyed or weakened) which explains the changed color of the skin.
Vitiligo occurs when the dark pigment melanin lying in layers of epidermis is destroyed by an external cause or is not produced anymore. Melanin is what gives your skin the color it has and that is why your skin looses color this condition. The exact cause of the disease is unknown.
You will initially first notice white patches or spots (depigmentation) on your skin. However your skin surface will not break or tamper. You can notice them more obvious in sun-exposed areas, including the hands, feet, arms, legs face, and lips. Other common areas for white patches to appear are the armpits and groin and around the mouth, eyes, nostrils, navel, and genitals. Vitiligo generally appears in one of three patterns. In one pattern you may have the white patches only in a certain area (focal) or in another pattern you may have it in one part of your body called the segmented pattern. It may also start from white hair growing in on the scalp, eyelashes, eyebrows, and beard. Rarely it could affect the eye color or the pigment of the retina.
Vitiligo is not contagious. If it were, many more people in the world, including doctors who treat vitiligo and family members of those with vitiligo, would have the condition.
Most people with vitiligo have neither parents, nor children, nor siblings with vitiligo. Many have no other relatives with vitiligo. Vitiligo does appear to be hereditary, that is, it can run in families. Children whose parents have the disorder are more likely to develop vitiligo. There is no question about that. However, most children will not get vitiligo even if a parent has it, and most people with vitiligo do not have a family history of the disorder. So the chances of a child developing vitiligo appear to be very small.
Certain self-care tactics may help care for the skin and improve its appearance:
Protect the skin – If one has vitiligo, then he/she should use sunscreen to protect the skin from the sun’s harmful rays. Sunscreen helps protect the skin from sunburn and long-term damage. Sunscreen also minimises tanning, which makes the contrast between normal and depigmented skin less noticeable.
Most patients with vitiligo undergo emotional trauma related to their looks and social image, especially the young. They should be reassured and supported. The treatment in most cases is effective and should be continued till the desired results are obtained.