This is an autoimmune condition where the skin loses its colour as whole or in botches. It can affect any part of the body including skin, hair and mucosal tissue (oral/genital).
Hair and skin colour are determined by the melanin producing cells of the body. When these cells die or stop functioning, it leads to Vitiligo. It can affect people of all skin types but prominent in darker skin types. It can start occurring at any age.
Patients with Vitiligo are found to be suffering from :
Social and psychological stress.
Sunburn and Skin Cancer.
Infalmmation of the iris and other eye problems.
Signs and Symptoms
The major sign of Vitiligo are :
Patchy loss of skin colour – hands, feet, arms, face and lips.
Premature greying or whitening of hair on scalp, eyelashes, eyebrows or beard.
Loss of skin colour inside the mouth,nose,retina etc.
Generalized Vitiligo: This is a common type of vitiligo where multiple areas of the body are affected. The discoloured patches typically progress symmetrically on corresponding body parts.
Segmental Vitiligo: This type appears only on side or in some cases on a part of the body. It may start at a young age, might progress for a year or two and then stops.
Localized or Focal Vitiligo: This type usually occurs in one or a few areas of the body.
The body’s immune system itself attacks and destroys healthy cells and tissues and this condition is called auto-immune.
Triggers like sunburn, stress or even exposure to some chemicals.
Management of Vitiligo
Treatment options are decided based on the type of Vitiligo, extent of involvement and other conditions related to the patient’s skin.
The treatment options include:
Therapy (Energy based )
Combination of Light Therapy & Psoralen: This therapy of combining psoralen and light therapy can help regain skin colour. Patient is exposed to UV light after oral or topical application of psoralen. The treatments might have to be repeated 3 times a week for 6-12 months.
Depigmentation: This therapy is opted for widespread vitiligo. A depigmenting agent is applied to the unaffected skin to lighten it so that it blends with the discoloured area.
Tattooing / Micropigmentation: In this procedure, a hypo allergenic medical pigment that matches with the surrounding skin colour is introduced into the skin at a level of 2mm deep to camouflage the flaws.