20 Interesting Facts About Vitiligo + Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

Here are the top interesting facts about vitiligo:

1 It is a disease in which the pigment cells of the skin (known as melanocytes) are destroyed in certain areas. This occurs due to the fact that the cells which make the color of the skin are destroyed.

2 Moreover, this condition can affect the eye and the mucous membranes, like – the tissue inside the nose and mouth – the hair that grows in areas affected by this disease may turn white.

3 The patches occur when melanocytes within the skin die off. Melanocytes are the cells accountable for producing the skin pigment, called – melanin.

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Image credit – https://www.flickr.com/photos/lwpkommunikacio/16003737912

This is the pigment which determines the color of the hair, skin, and eyes. Melanin is produced in the epidermis – the outer, nonsensitive, nonvascular, layer of the skin.

4 It can start at any age, however, about 90% of individuals with this condition develop the disease before the age of 40.

5 Its course is hard to predict, however, it tends to progress slowly, with periods of stability, usually lasting a few years.

6 The patches are more easily observed in darker skin types and in sun-exposed areas of the body, but it affects all races and any area of the human body. Also, it doesn’t matter if you are a woman or a man.

7 Up to 2 percent of the population and approximately 4 million people living in the United States have this disease. Worldwide, 70 million individuals have it. Famous people with this condition include – supermodel Winnie Harlow, Joe Rogan, Michael Jackson, Yvette Fielding, Daniel Bryan, Jon Hamm, Tamar Braxton, and comedian Steve Martin.

Symptoms

8 The main sign of this condition is a patchy loss of skin color. Commonly, the discoloration first shows on sun-exposed areas, like – the feet, hands, face, arms, and lips.

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Image credit – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Vitiligo2.JPG

9 Other less common signs may include:

  • premature graying or whitening of the hair, especially the hair on eyelashes, top of the head, or facial hair;
  • inflammation of the uvea, the middle layer of the eye between the sclera and the retina. This commonly affects approximately 5% of patients.

10 It doesn’t cause discomfort to the skin, like – dryness, however, these patches may sometimes be itchy. Also, the skin disorder does not result in restriction of expectancy of life or capacity to work.

11 It does not have significant health consequences and is not painful. But, this condition can have psychological and emotional consequences. For instance, many sufferers feel isolated and devastated by its impact on their professional and personal lives.

12 When exposes to the sun, the patches are sensible to sunburn. However, if the skin is not exposed to the sun, there is a higher chance of vitamin D (also known as sunshine vitamin) deficiency. This vitamin is important for keeping teeth and bones healthy. In addition, vitamin D is crucial for healthy immune system function.

13 Long-term health complications of this disease include – inflammation in the eye and partial loss of hearing. Other complications include:

  • skin cancer;
  • sunburn;
  • psychological distress;
  • social distress.

Causes

14 The precise causes of this disease are not known, nevertheless, many doctors suspect that it is actually an autoimmune disease since the body is destroying the melanocyte cells, hence, halting melanin production.

15 Moreover, it may have a genetic component, as this condition tends to run in families. For example, 1 in 5 individuals affected with this disease has a family history of this condition.

16 It tends to recur or occur in summer and/or spring. Some researchers consider that this condition does not lead to an increased risk of skin cancer, the most common of all human cancers.

It cannot be spread from one individual to another. Therefore, it is safe to hug, touch, kiss, or have sexual intercourse with a patient who has this disease.

Diagnosis

17 A skin medical expert can make a diagnosis of this disease just by looking for the telltale white patches on the skin.

Occasionally, he may use a Wood’s light, a small handheld device which uses ultraviolet light to illuminate areas of your skin and causes the areas of skin with less pigment to glow bright white.

Treatment

18 The white patches caused by this condition are permanent, however, currently, there are a few treatment options (such as – light therapy) to improve the appearance of the skin.

Repeated sessions of light therapy can help restore some color to the affected skin by triggering the skin’s natural healing process.

19 Applying a corticosteroid cream to the affected skin may also help return the natural color, especially if the patient starts using it early in the disease.

Also, according to a 2018 study issued in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, microneedling (also referred to as collagen induction therapy) in combination with 5-fluorouracil is a safe and effective treatment for the condition

20 Individuals with this skin disease can manage their condition better by making diet changes, especially by increasing their intake of beta-carotene and B-complex vitamins.

 

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