It is a condition that causes pale, white patches to develop on skin (de pigmentation of the skin). Vitiligo can affect any area of the skin, but most commonly occurs on skin exposed to the sun, such as face, neck and hands. The condition varies from person to person.
It occurs when melanocytes, the cells responsible for skin pigmentation, die or are unable to function. The cause of vitiligo is unknown, but research suggests that it may arise from autoimmune, genetic, oxidative stress, neural, or viral causes.
Vitiligo is flat, white spots or patches on the skin.
Lesions are hypo pigmented. Patients are stigmatized for their condition and may experience depression and similar mood disorders.
Vitiligo is caused by the lack of a skin pigment called melanin. It may be further associated with the conditions:
Non-segmental vitiligo, the most common type of vitiligo, is thought to be an autoimmune condition. This means that the immune system (the body’s natural defense system) does not work properly. Instead of attacking foreign cells, such as viruses, immune system produces antibodies (infection-fighting proteins) that attack the body’s own healthy cells and tissue.
Segmental vitiligo, the less common type of vitiligo, is thought to be caused by chemicals released from the nerve endings in the skin. These chemicals are poisonous to the melanocyte skin cells.
Vitiligo can usually be diagnosed by physical examination done by a physician.
If one is available, doctor may use an ultraviolet lamp called a Wood’s lamp to look at skin in more detail. For this there is a need of dark room and the lamp will be held 10-13cm (4-5in) away from skin. Under the ultraviolet light, the patches of vitiligo will be easier to see.
Other autoimmune conditions
Non-segmental vitiligo, the most common type of vitiligo, is closely associated with other autoimmune conditions.
There is no specific cure for the disease. However, skin's appearance can be stored with the help of certain treatments.
Medical treatment include:
Surgical treatments include: