By Dr. Rasya Dixit , Dermatology
Every human on the planet is born with a natural amount of pigmentation within the skin which is determined by their genetics. However, for multiple reasons, disorders may occur wherein the skin loses its color. One such condition is vitiligo which is a fairly common skin disorder among many Indians. This disorder causes the skin to lose its color in certain areas which may progressively spread all over the body. To many people, it is a cause of social embarrassment and may make them depressed as they develop a poor body image.
Some of the symptoms of vitiligo are mentioned below:
- Development of white or discolored patches on certain areas of the body. It may start developing in multiple areas together and the skin color will look very different from the rest of the body.
- The discoloration usually shows up first on the legs, hands, face and lips.
- The discolored patches become larger in size gradually.
- It can also affect the insides of the mouth, hair as well as the eyeballs.
- The disorder usually affects individuals under the age of 35.
Causes of Vitiligo-
Your skin as well as hair consists of cells known as melanocytes which give them their color. If the cells die off suddenly in areas of the skin, it will result in the development of white patches. Why the cells develop this disorder is not known exactly, but it has ben attributed to the following reasons:
- Auto-immune Disorder: This is a disorder within the body wherein the immune system erroneously attacks the healthy cells such as melanocytes and destroys them, resulting in vitiligo.
- Exposure to Strong Chemicals: Exposure to strong chemicals may trigger this disorder as well.
- Genetics: A family history of this disorder puts one at greater risks of developing the same.
While there are many options out there (such as cosmetics) to hide the color of the skin where the patches develop, they aren’t really a treatment option. Others include corticosteroid creams, but they may end up having side effects as well if used on their own. The best method of treatment is to use corticosteroids with the help of Phototherapy.
Phototherapy – In this form of treatment, the affected area on your skin is exposed to a fixed wavelength of Ultraviolet light or UV light. This light helps to stop the destruction of melanocytes within multiple skin cells and helps the skin get its pigmentation back. This, along with the use of corticosteroids, has been seen as a very effective treatment for vitiligo.