Vitiligo is a kind of skin disease, It causes white spots on the skin. Vitiligo is a widespread problem around the world. It can be seen more in dark-skinned races. It is inherited in families and it happens more at the age of 10 to 30. At the beginning of vitiligo, it appears on the fingertips and around the eyes. It is reported that these white spots do not cause pain or itching and they usually appear symmetrical on the both sides of the body. They often can be seen on thin parts of the body.
Vitiligo includes 2 types. General type, in which white spots are usually symmetrical and they have distinctive borderlines. This type could spread in all parts of the body. Limited type, in which vitiligo spots appear on one side of the body. In this type, these spots will not develop even after 6 months. In some cases, vitiligo spreads in all parts of the body and it is able to change the skin color from an African_ American to a European_ American person.
Main causes of vitiligo:
Our skin is made of 2 main types of cells. “Keratinocytes”, which form a principal mass of the skin and “Melanocytes”, that cause skin color or “pigments”. Due to this disease immune system is weakened, so protective cells attack melanocytes and eliminate them. When melanocytes are eliminated in an area, the color of that area will change to white. Unfortunately, the main reason for invasion of protective cells to melanocytes is not clear, but it is reported that genetic and environmental factors are involved.
Symptoms of the vitiligo in half of the patients appear before 20. It starts with some signs for example colorful spots on the terminal organs such as fingers and fingertips. In some cases, these spots develop and become larger. Sometimes, in small areas melanocytes are collected and become colorful, so it causes a movement in the place of spots.
In some superficial damages (such as foot abrasions due to tight shoes) could form new white spots. Also, stress sometimes stimulates protective cells and causes vitiligo. These white spots mostly affect on the hair color. Due to these spots beard, mustache and body hair may change to white. Vitiligo seriously affects mental health, for example for a person who has dark skin. Because the base of skin color and parts of the skin with white spots look differently. So it could cause dissatisfaction and depression and other mental problems.
Sometimes, vitiligo develops slowly and in some cases it automatically will be cured. Generally, all patients need daily vitamins and minerals such as B complex, vitamin E, Folic acid and Ascorbic acid. Also some topical ointment can be useful too. Unfortunately, vitiligo has no cure, but some cosmetics products are produced to cover and fade these spots.
Another treatment method is PUVA. This method takes along time and it is performed by radiation during 100 to 300 sessions. It is not guaranteed, sometimes it dose not show any positive effect even after one year. But in 50-70% of cases this method has shown satisfactory results. In severe patients, that have no cure, physicians mostly suggest “Benoquin” , which whitens the whole skin permanently, but it is the last solution.