Vitiligo is a long term auto-immune skin condition characterized by small and large patches of the skin losing its pigmentation. The affected skin loses its pigmentation and becomes white, and the hair follicles coming from that area of skin turn white too. The inside of the mouth and nose may also be involved in de-pigmentation. Vitiligo disease is photosensitive. The start of de-pigmentation occurs to the skin exposed to direct sunlight.
Causes Of Vitiligo
The exact reason for Vitiligo is unknown. It is believed that is can be a cause of genetic susceptibility, triggered by environmental factors such that auto-immune disease occurs, which then results in the destruction of skin pigment cells. Risk factors include family history or other autoimmune diseases and are not contagious.
Types Of Vitiligo
There are two types of Vitiligo:
- Segmental: segmental Vitiligo affects only one side of the body and the affected area of the body does not expand with time.
- Non-segmental: non-segmental Vitiligo affects both sides of the body and the affected area expands itself with time.
Most of the cases are non-segmental and only 10% are segmental. These type of diagnosis can be confirmed by tissue biopsy.
Treatment Of Vitiligo
There is no cure for Vitiligo, but few treatment options are available.
Immune mediators are considered to be the first-line treatment for Vitiligo. Immunosuppressants like glucocorticoids, tacrolimus, and many others inhibit the activity of the immune system.
Exposing the skin to light from UVB lamps is considered a common treatment to treat Vitiligo. This treatment can be done in a clinic or at home. The treatment time is managed so that the skin does not suffer from overexposure. This treatment can take weeks if the areas affected are face and neck, it can take months if the spots are on hands and legs. Also, less time is taken to treat the spots that existed for less than three years, and the time of treatment increases if the spots existed for more than three years. The sessions are arranged 2-3 times a week. But there is a severe potential of developing skin cancer.
When most of the skin is affected by Vitiligo, then de-pigmenting the rest of the skin using topical drugs may be considered to provide the skin neutral color.
To sum up, Vitiligo can affect people of any gender, at any age and of any race. It is non-contagious and the people affected by this disease should not be considered untouchables. One of the most reputed and famous personalities suffered from Vitiligo i.e. Michael Jackson.
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