What is Vitiligo? Vitiligo is a condition that causes depigmentation of sections of skin. It occurs when melanocytes, the cells responsible for skin pigmentation, die or are unable to function. The cause of vitiligo is unknown, but research suggests that it may arise from autoimmune, genetic, oxidative stress, neural, or viral causes. The incidence worldwide is less than 1%.The most common form is non-segmental vitiligo, which tends to appear in symmetric patches, sometimes over large areas of the body. So Vitiligo, or leucoderma, is a skin disorder, which had been discovered way back in the olden times. It causes white or light pink patches/spots on the skin area where it has affected. These white patches appear due to the malfunctioning of the cells that make pigment in the skin, known as melanocytes. It is not a contagious skin disease. The cause of vitiligo may depend on a variety of factors interrelating in specific ways. According to the research conducted over the years, it has been discovered that vitiligo may arise from autoimmune, genetic, oxidative, viral, or neural causes; however, the exact scientific reasons for vitiligo to occur are still unknown. The effects of vitiligo can be both physical and psychological, as it not only disturbs the pateint’s skin color, but also puts a significant effect on the mental health of the patient. Patients of vitiligo may experience depression and similar mood disorders.
What is Vitiligo? Vitiligo is more noticeable in darker skinned people because of the contrast, although when they tan, even lighter skinned people are affected. This condition affects about 1% to 2% of the US population, or about 3 to 6 million people. In some countries, the incidence is even higher. Worldwide, there are thought to be more than 100 million people with the condition. Vitiligo would appear to be as old as the recorded history of man – it is mentioned in the Bible, and there are references to it in ancient Egyptian, Greek and Chinese writings.
What is Vitiligo? Signs and symptoms
What is Vitiligo? The most notable symptom of vitiligo is depigmentation of patches of skin that occurs on the extremities. Although patches are initially small, they often enlarge and change shape. When skin lesions occur, they are most prominent on the face, hands and wrists. Depigmentation is particularly noticeable around body orifices, such as the mouth, eyes, nostrils, genitalia and umbilicus. Some lesions have hyperpigmentation around the edges. Patients who are stigmatised for their condition may experience depression and similar mood disorders.
What is Vitiligo? Non-segmental
What is Vitiligo? In non-segmental vitiligo (NSV), there is usually some form of symmetry in the location of the patches of depigmentation. New patches also appear over time and can be generalized over large portions of the body or localized to a particular area. Vitiligo where little pigmented skin remains is referred to as vitiligo universalis. NSV can come about at any age, unlike segmental vitiligo, which is far more prevalent in teenage years.
What is Vitiligo
Classes of non-segmental Vitiligo include:
- Generalized Vitiligo: the most common pattern, wide and randomly distributed areas of depigmentation
- Universal Vitiligo: depigmentation encompasses most of the body
- Focal Vitiligo: one or a few scattered macules in one area, most common in children
- Acrofacial Vitiligo: fingers and periorificial areas
- Mucosal Vitiligo: depigmentation of only the mucous membranes
What is Vitiligo? Segmental Vitiligo
What is Vitiligo? Segmental vitiligo (SV) differs in appearance, etiology and prevalence from associated illnesses. Its treatment is different from that of NSV. It tends to affect areas of skin that are associated with dorsal roots from the spine and is most often unilateral. It spreads much more rapidly than NSV and, without treatment, it is much more stable/ static in course and it is associated with auto-immune diseases and a very treatable condition that responds to topical treatment.
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