- by Dr Vivekananda Bhat
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- Apr 20 2017
Frequently Asked Questions And Solutions About Vitiligo
What is Vitiligo?
Vitiligo simply put is discoloration of skin in patches resulting from depigmentation. The patches are most commonly seen on face, lips, insides of the mouth, extremities and the back.
Is Vitiligo harmful to the body?
Although relatively harmless, Vitiligo is more of a social disease as it affects the personal appearance of the patients and deteriorates their social life owing to the perceived taboo that it might be a communicable skin disease.
Who gets Vitiligo?
Vitiligo affects around 1% of the world population and can be seen in all races. However it looks more prominent in people with darker skin tone as the white patches on skin are more prominently visible.
The reason for concern however is that it occurs more in people under the age group of 20, and may also be related to other Auto immune disorders later in life like diabetes, thyroid disease, Rheumatoid arthritis, Lupus and Alopecia Areata etc.
How is Vitiligo Diagnosed?
On noticing white patches on the body or face, a medical diagnosis can help in determining the cause as Vitiligo and present treatment options available for the patient. It is seen that white patches occur more on parts exposed to the sun. The severity and rate of pigment loss varies from person to person and cannot be predicted.
What causes Vitiligo?
Although the underlying reason causing Vitiligo is not fully known, the white patches occur due to the loss or destruction of pigment producing cells in the skin called Melanocytes. The proposed theories for its causes may be related to a systemic autoimmune disorder or abnormal functioning of nerve cells resulting in damage to pigment cells or event the pigment cells destroying themselves.
What can make Vitiligo spread?
Vitiligo tends to occur more often at the sites of extreme sun exposure, abrasion, cuts, places of physical shock to the skin and this phenomena is known as Koebner Phenomena.
Many other factors like emotional stress can also flare up Vitiligo.
The white patches if untreated may grow bigger and show up at multiple places, even affecting the hair follicles and turning them grey.
There is no fixed pattern of the disease progression as the patches may be seen to come in cycles and then slow down, in rare cases repigmentation is also noticed.
The patients with prominently visible patches may have to seek medical treatment, and other concealing methods like make up and clothing.
What is the treatment of Vitiligo and costs?
The Treatment For Vitiligo is targeted towards restoring the colour of the patches. Choice of treatment depends on factors like location, size and numbers of white patches on the face.
Although there is no set standard for treating Vitiligo and not every treatment option will show the same result in different patients, patients seek a treatment that gives long termed solution with minimum side effects for a better appearance of the face.
Medical treatment options include – skin creams, oral medicine, treatment using Ultraviolet A(UVA) light(PUVA), discolouration of surrounding skin area and surgical options like skin grafting.
The cost of each treatment varies as treatment options like surgery and UVA are more expensive compared to skin creams and medicine. Many patients often combine different therapies for better results.
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