What Is Vitiligo and What Causes It?
There are many vitiligo treatment options readily available to patients in hospitals and in the garden. Vitiligo is a skin condition that deals with depigmentation because of the failure of pigments or melanocytes, which are cells, found in the skin. Melanocytes produce melanin which is responsible for the color of our skin, our eyes, and our hair. When one suffers from vitiligo, melanocytes fail to function leaving the skin, or patches of the skin, without color. Basically, vitiligo is when the melanocytes are destroyed which then results to the loss of melanin, will then result to white patches.
There are millions of people affected by the condition in the United States alone. It affects both men and women of any ethnicity. Most cases of vitiligo occur in a person’s teenage years. Rarely does the condition occur in quarter-life.
Melanin Loss may actually happen gradually or rapidly, all depending on the severity of the condition. White patches on the body are also sometimes localized or generalized. Lesions also appear on the face and the mouth. People with vitiligo often develop mood disorders because of the stress they go through.
There are many treatments readily available for vitiligo. Although, vitiligo is not actually curable and these treatments are just to lessen or to conceal visibility.
1) Topical Treatment – steroid creams such as corticosteroid help regenerate pigment to lessen the extent of white patches
2) Oral Medication – such as psoralen is taken orally to sensitize skin. Once sensitive to sunlight, skin gets tanner easily.
3) Oral Medication and UVA – although not always advised, patients who take psolaren undergo UVA (Ultraviolet A) to color the skin.
4) Surgery – skin grafting is the invasive procedure dealing with the transplantation of tissues.
5) Stem Cell – Stem cell research has been a great procedure due to the advancement of medical technology. Stem cells are basically undifferentiated cells which are capable to develop on their own. These cells may form into tissues that could replace white patches.
Treating vitiligo always depends on the patient, his income, and the severity of his case. Restoring pigments is the most economical choice although some doctors prefer to leave the skin be as the condition is more stable when left unattended. For the braver patients, with localized white patches, tattooing the skin to its normal shade becomes a more painful alternative. Severe situations usually require skin grafting but this alternative is pricey and time-consuming.
Other Treatment Options
Phototherapy is one of the treatments most sought out by many vitiligo patients. This treatment makes use of light or ultraviolet rays to color the skin. Psoralen is administered topically or taken orally to make skin sensitive to light. Then the skin is brought under Ultraviolet rays to stimulate melanocytes and create skin color. This procedure is called PUVA which stands for Psoralen + Ultraviolet A.
For centuries now, many people rather resort to organic medicinal alternatives rather than going to the hospital and seeing a doctor. Herbal treatments have always been available to cure or to lessen visibility caused by vitiligo. Gingko Biloba has said to be one of the best organic treatments that aids melanocytes produce melanin. Such herbal treatments help re-pigmentation on the skin for it to produce color. Many Chinese herbal treatments address white patches on the skin caused by vitiligo and also aids underlying fractions of the body such as the liver and kidney.
Laser treatment, thanks to technological advancement, is one of the most innovative ways to color skin that is affected by vitiligo. Photo therapy using Ultraviolet A has said to cause skin cancer over time. Hence, laser treatment for the skin is the better alternative.
Now that we know the treatment options possible. It is also best to know further about the condition and what causes it. Given below are the two types of vitiligo and a few reasons that trigger the condition. The most apparent visible symptom of the skin condition is the patching of the skin. These patches usually develop in small localized areas and grow as the person ages.
Two types of Vitiligo
In non-segmental vitiligo, or NSV, white patches are usually randomly distributed in body parts. NSV come about at any age and depigmentation usually occur in localized areas depending on the class of non-segmental vitiligo. Classes of non-segmental vitiligo include: universal, generalized, focal, mucosal, and acrofacial. Classes are differentiated by location and distribution of white patches.
Segemental Vitiligo, or SV, varies in appearance. Treatment for segemntal vitiligo varies from treatment for non-segmental vitiligo. Segmental vitiligo white patches affect skin in the posterior roots or the spine area. Segmental vitiligo rapidly spreads throughout the body faster than non-segmental vitiligo. SV is more stable when left unattended.
Other conditions associated with vitiligo include: Albinism, Tuberceloid Leprosy, Post inflammatory hypopigmentation, Pityriasis alba, piebaldism, Tinea versicolor, idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis, and progressive macular hypomelanosis.
Famous people with vitiligo include: Michael Jackson, Jon Hamm of Mad Men, and Francesco Cossiga, president of Italy.
There are many people with vitiligo and majority suffers from mood disorders and personality issues. Because of social standards, these people suffering from the condition has become subjects of bullying and mockery both in school and the workplace. Up to this date, there have been no solid grounds as to what causes the disease and how to cure it. Vitiligo treatment options are always readily available but these are not to fully cure the condition but to lessen its extent and to camouflage its visibility.