Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about vitiligo:
- What is Vitiligo? Vitiligo is a skin condition that occurs when melanocytes, the cells that produce the pigment melanin that gives the skin its natural color, die out or are enable to function.
- What are the symptoms of vitiligo?Vitiligo is marked by the appearance of white patches on their skin, a result of depigmentation. Although these white patches may appear on any part of the body, they are more commonly found on areas of the body that are frequently exposed to the sun such as the face, hands, arms, lips and feet. They may also appear on the armpits, groin and genitals.
- What causes vitiligo?
To date, the cause of vitiligo has not yet been definitively established, but scientific research theorizes that a combination of immunologic, environmental and hereditary factors trigger the development of the disorder.
- How many vitiligo sufferers are there in the world?
Vitiligo affects 0.5 to 1 percent of the global population, which is roughly 65 million people.
- Who may be affected by vitiligo?
People of any age, gender or race may develop vitiligo, although the initial symptoms tend to appear between the ages of ten and thirty. The white patches are also more apparent in patients who have darker complexion.
- Is vitiligo contagious?
Unlike many skin disorders, vitiligo is not an infectious skin condition.
- Do the white patches of vitiligo spread?
The spread of vitiligo may vary from patient to patient. Some vitiligo sufferers experience a slow spread of the white patches or no spreading at all, while for others, the white patches spread rather rapidly.
- How does vitiligo affect the lives of those who have it?
Although vitiligo patients feel no itching or any kind of physical discomfort, the white patches present a cosmetic issue which may have an adverse impact on their quality of life. It is common for vitiligo patients, particularly those with white patches on the face which can be unsightly, to feel depressed, have low self-esteem and in certain cases, experience rejection. A number of vitiligo patients have also complained about how the condition has taken a toll on their personal relationships as well as their sex lives.
- Can vitiligo be cured?
Unfortunately, there is no permanent cure for vitiligo just yet. However, there are several treatment options available which either slow down the spread or progress of the condition or conceal those white patches.
- What are the most common treatments for vitiligo?
Among the most common vitiligo treatments are:
Phototherapy-the exposure of skin to ultraviolet light. This can be done at home or in a clinic using a domestic UV lamp.
Topical Corticosteroid therapy-Corticosteroid creams or ointments are applied to the skin with the aim of triggering repigmentation of the affected area, a process which could take as long as three months.
Depigmentation-An option usually resorted to by patients with white patches that cover more than half of their entire skin, depigmentation therapy is designed to lighten the parts of the skin which remain unaffected by vitiligo in order to match the already depigmented areas. This involves the use of monobenzone ether of hydroquinone twice a day.
Makeup– There are several cosmetic camouflage solutions that effectively mask vitiligo patches and make one’s complexion look more even.
- Are there natural ways to treat vitiligo?
There are actually many natural options for people who want to manage their vitiligo in a less expensive and ultimately safer way. A few lifestyles changes, particularly when it comes to diet, are recommended. Consume more green leafy vegetables, fruits, nuts and whole grains as they are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Carrots, celery and parsnips are also recommended since they contain psoralen, a compound that helps increase the sensitivity of the skin to ultraviolet light and promote tanning. To further aid in the healthy tanning of depigmented skin, there are supplements available for that, particularly those that contain significant doses of vitamin B12 and selenium.
- Do YOU have any questions about vitiligo? Please submit a comment below, and we’ll do our best to answer your question!