What is vitiligo?
Vitiligo is a disease characterized by the immune system of the sufferer destroys the cells responsible for producing melanin, which are what color our skin, hair and eyes. As a result, certain areas of the skin remain unpigmented, that is, white. Although the exact cause of the destruction of melanocytes is not known, vitiligo is more likely to occur in people with autoimmune diseases and can have a hereditary component.
This non-serious or contagious disease can affect anyone, but mostly is diagnosed before turning 40.
The spots usually appear on areas of the skin exposed to the sun. For this reason, the disease can make many uncomfortable in their own body, affect their self-esteem and hinder their work, family and emotional relationships. Even today vitiligo socially stigmatizes those who suffer from it.
Types of vitiligo
Vitiligo can occur in different ways:
– Focal vitiligo: Slight white spots appear segmented by the body, mainly in the parts exposed to the sun.
– Segmental Vitiligo: spots occur only on one side of the body.
– Acrofacial Vitiligo: the spots are around the mouth, eyes and nose. They also appear on the hands and feet.
– Universal vitiligo: the spots are large and appear all over the body.
Typical symptoms of the disease are as follows:
– Irregular loss of skin color. It usually appears first on the hands, face, genitals, and in areas around the body openings.
– Appearance of premature gray hair. Also on the eyelashes, eyebrows or beard.
– The inside of the mouth and nose lose their color characteristic and turn whitish.
Unfortunately this disease it has no cure. However, there are treatments to prevent discoloration from increasing. They are usually administered topical corticosteroids, calcineurin inhibitors, and phototherapy.
Something very important is that, due to the lack of pigmentation, these areas of the skin are very vulnerable to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, so you have to protect yourself very well with high sun protection creams and clothing items. Those affected must be extremely careful with sunbathing, when in the mountains, on the beach and avoid tanning booths. It is obvious to think that if the unaffected skin is lighter, the spots will be less noticeable and if it is darker they will be more noticeable.
Phototherapy that is applied under medical supervision consists of an ultraviolet light Narrowband B that seeks to return the pigmentation to the white spots. Other times it will be easier to depigment the non-stained areas of the skin because they occupy less than the stained ones.
Vitiligo is a very unknown disease and it is not known for sure how it will progress. Sometimes the spots disappear without treatment, but in most cases, they end up spreading all over the body.