Vitiligo, also known as white spot disease, is a skin disease in which the skin on different parts of the body turns white. This complete loss of color in vitiligo is caused by the dysfunction of the cells responsible for pigment formation.
What is vitiligo?
Vitiligo is a skin disease that is particularly noticeable in dark-skinned patients. The natural pigmentation occurs through the formation of pigments in cells that are specially suited for this purpose. In vitiligo, the pigment melanin is no longer produced in sufficient quantities in these melanocytes. For chediak-higashi syndrome (chs), please visit nonprofitdictionary.com.
White spots appear on the skin that do not have any pigmentation. Vitiligo is a chronic, non-contagious disease of unknown cause. There is an increased risk for people with autoimmune diseases and family history of vitiligo.
Among skin diseases, vitiligo is considered harmless and does not necessarily require treatment. However, due to the lack of the protective main pigmentation, the risk of sunburn and skin cancer due to vitiligo increases with increased exposure to the sun.
Vitiligo occurs when the skin cells responsible for pigment formation can no longer produce enough pigment. In these melanocytes, the hydrogen peroxide content is increased, which is why no melanin can be produced.
However, it is not known why this detectable increase in the hydrogen peroxide content occurs. The trigger for vitiligo is therefore unclear. It is assumed that it is an autoimmune disease, similar to rheumatism. After that, the body reacts to its own cells with defense reactions due to a misjudgment of the immune system and triggers the destructive process.
Another theory suspects a congenital genetic defect in vitiligo, without the associated genes having been identified so far. Isolated events such as sunburn as a special trigger or psychological stress are also discussed as causes of vitiligo.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
The symptoms of vitiligo or vitiligo are to be found in a pigment disorder on the skin. The otherwise pigmented skin turns white in places. The leading symptom also gave the disease its name. The white pigmented skin spots are mostly amazingly symmetrical and clearly defined. In some cases they are asymmetrical. In this case, they can also appear washed out or merge into one another.
All parts of the body are potentially affected by the main symptom of vitiligo. The darker the skin of those affected, the clearer Vitiligo is. In addition, this pigment disorder can also discolor the hair on the affected body regions. Occasionally, there is depigmentation of the lips or oral mucosa. Even with such symptoms, vitiligo is more noticeable in people with dark skin than in light skin types.
The inner ears or areas around the eyes are less frequently affected by white spot disease than other areas of the body. In some of the sufferers, new spots are announced by severe itching. In most vitiligo sufferers, however, the disease progresses without any further symptoms. Vitiligo (white spot disease) usually only produces the optically visible main symptom.
However, this can put a heavy strain on the psyche of those affected. As a result, symptoms such as inferiority complexes or depression can arise. However, there is still a risk of suicidal tendencies in some of those affected.
Diagnosis & History
A special feature of vitiligo are white patches in the areas of the skin that are particularly exposed to the sun. The dermatologist carries out a comprehensive skin examination to make the diagnosis. For this purpose, the questioning of the patient is important, which can reveal a family tendency to vitiligo.
Patient survey for vitiligo includes determining whether an event such as severe sunburn occurred prior to the onset of vitiligo. If this anamnesis is not yet able to confirm the diagnosis by the doctor, a biopsy and blood tests are carried out.
Vitiligo can spread in such a way that, to outsiders, a previously dark-skinned person appears to be undergoing a change in skin color due to the merging of white patches. In some cases, the white patches in vitiligo remain unchanged for years. It is also possible that after some time the production of melanin in the melanocytes starts again and Vitiligo disappears through self-healing.
Vitilgo is harmless and, from a purely medical point of view, does not even need to be treated. However, complications often arise in the form of severe mental stress. Many patients, especially young ones, feel disfigured by the disease.
This applies in particular if this is very pronounced on the face and attempts at therapy do not lead to a visible improvement. Those affected then very often lose their self-confidence when dealing with others and begin to isolate themselves. This can lead to serious mental disorders, especially depression that requires treatment.
Physical complications usually only result from the fact that the depigmented areas of the skin are extremely sensitive to UV light and should therefore never be exposed to the sun or a solarium without protection. This can quickly lead to painful and itchy burns. For those affected, it is particularly stressful at the beginning of the disease that they are no longer allowed to venture out of the house without sun protection.
This is often simply forgotten at first. Since the consequences do not become apparent immediately, but usually only become apparent several hours later, those affected often suffer from pain and itching. If the already severely irritated skin in this situation is additionally irritated by constant scratching, this can lead to inflammation that leaves scars after it has healed. In addition, the risk of developing skin cancer increases.
When should you go to the doctor?
If changes in the appearance of the skin are detected during the development process or growth of the child, a doctor should be consulted to clarify the cause and make a diagnosis. Skin changes are often a sign that there is a disease that requires action. In particular, pigmentation associated with white patches on the skin should be discussed with a doctor. In case of itching, swelling or open wounds, it is advisable to consult a doctor. Optical changes in the lips or the mucous membrane in the mouth are further signs of a health problem. A doctor’s visit is necessary in case of an overreaction to exposure to sunlight, pain or constant scratching.
For the best possible treatment success, therapy is recommended as soon as the irregularities begin to appear. If, in addition to the physical abnormalities, there are also scenes of emotional stress, the person concerned also needs help and support. A withdrawal from social and community life, lowered self-esteem, as well as a general malaise should be presented to a doctor. A therapist should be consulted if there are abnormalities in behavior, statements about a premature self-imposed death and a depressive appearance. A visit to the doctor is necessary in the event of inner restlessness, reduced mental performance and a loss of zest for life.
Treatment & Therapy
Treatment for vitiligo consists of stimulating the affected cells to produce melanin again, preventing damage from lack of protection from sunlight, and relieving the psychological effects of vitiligo.
Vitiligo is not a disease associated with pain or permanent impairment of function. The consequences for a patient are still significant, since vitiligo mostly affects visible areas of the body. As a psychological burden that vitiligo can exacerbate, this involuntary display of the skin condition becomes part of treatment.
Cosmetic aids equalize the difference between the unpigmented and normally pigmented skin areas. UV exposure can stimulate melanin production, but is only advisable for a limited time.
Smaller spots in vitiligo can be treated by means of autologous skin transplantation. A tattoo is recommended as an alternative if the area of skin affected by Vitiligo is not too large. Treatment depends on the individual severity of vitiligo and the level of suffering that patients experience from vitiligo.
Prevention of Vitiligo is not possible. Eating a healthy diet and avoiding excessive sun exposure are recommended to rule out risk factors for vitiligo. Because stress can be a trigger, regular rest helps reduce the risk of developing vitiligo in people with a hereditary condition.
Since vitiligo cannot be cured with the current state of medicine, there are no aftercare methods in this regard. The only option medical professionals have for Vitiligo is to slow and/or stop its progression. To achieve this, the patient’s lifestyle must be optimized. Stress needs to be reduced as it is a trigger for the spread of white spots. The affected areas should be protected from direct sunlight and, if necessary, treated with special medicinal creams.
Patients should therefore strive for a decelerated lifestyle, people with a demanding job or private life should take measures to reduce stress. This can be done by learning certain relaxation techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, yoga, autogenic training or breathing techniques. Sun protection products with a high sun protection factor (at least 50+) should be used regularly. Those affected should eat healthily.
An anti-inflammatory diet with lots of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants supports the immune system. Sufficient fluid intake and enough sleep contribute to well-being. If the doctor has prescribed medication, it should be taken or applied as directed. Regular check-ups with the dermatologist should always be kept. The doctor decides at what intervals these take place.
You can do that yourself
Those affected should pay particular attention to their skin, because the disease makes the skin much more sensitive than normal skin. Patients should always use a sunscreen with a very high sun protection factor. This should be applied to the affected skin half an hour before sun exposure. Wearing hats, sunglasses and appropriate clothing that covers the skin can also protect against sunburn.
Those affected should avoid the sun in the midday heat in particular. Because the patients burn faster. A sunburn would only damage the sensitive skin further. Tattoos should also be avoided. There is a special tattooing technique, the so-called micropigmentation, with the help of which it is possible to hide the white spots. However, it is possible that a tattoo can lead to further progression of the disease and thus the appearance of new spots.
There are natural substances that are able to care for the skin suffering from vertigo and possibly even delay its progression significantly. A proven home remedy is red clay, which mixed with water can be used as a healing skin pack. The clay pack contains copper, which can support diseased skin. In addition, red clay improves the blood flow from the skin, making it look a lot healthier.