Vitiligo is a pigmentation disorder in which melanocytes (the cells that make pigment) in the skin are destroyed. As a result, white patches appear on the skin in different parts of the body. Similar patches also appear on both the mucous membranes (tissues that line the inside of the mouth and nose) and the retina (inner layer of the eyeball). The hair that grows on areas affected by vitiligo sometimes turns white.
The most widely accepted view is that the depigmentation occurs because vitiligo is an autoimmune disease — a disease in which a person’s immune system reacts against the body’s own organs or tissues. People’s bodies produce proteins called cytokines that, in vitiligo, alter their pigment-producing cells and cause these cells to die. Another theory is that melanocytes destroy themselves. Finally, some people have reported that a single event such as sunburn or emotional distress triggered vitiligo; however, these events have not been scientifically proven as causes of vitiligo.
Vitiligo seems to be somewhat more common in people with certain autoimmune diseases, i.e.
• hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid gland)
• Hypothyroidism(an underactive thyroid gland)
• adrenocortical insufficiency (the adrenal gland does not produce enough of the hormone called corticosteroid),
• alopecia areata (patches of baldness)
• pernicious anemia (a low level of red blood cells caused by the failure of the body to absorb vitamin B12).
• Diabetes mellitus
Possible things that can trigger Vitiligo in an individual who is genetically prone include:
- Skin trauma
• Sun burn
• Emotional stress
• Skin rash
• Exposure to harsh chemicalsScientists do not know the reason for the association between vitiligo and these autoimmune diseases. However, most people with vitiligo have no other autoimmune disease.Vitiligo may also be hereditary; that is, it can run in families. Children whose parents have the disorder are more likely to develop vitiligo. In fact, 30 percent of people with vitiligo have a family member with the disease. However, only 5 to 7 percent of children will get vitiligo even if a parent has it, and most people with vitiligo do not have a family history of the disorder
People who develop vitiligo usually first notice white patches (depigmentation) on their skin. These patches are more commonly found on sun-exposed areas of the body, including the hands, feet, arms, face, and lips. Other common areas for white patches to appear are the armpits and groin, and around the mouth, eyes, nostrils, navel, genitals, and rectum.
Vitiligo generally appears in one of three patterns:
• focal pattern — depigmentation limited to one or only a few areas
• segmental pattern — depigmented patches that develop on one side of the body
• Generalized pattern — the most common pattern. Depigmentation occurs symmetrically on both sides of the body.
In addition to white patches on the skin, people with vitiligo may have premature graying of the scalp hair, eyelashes, eyebrows, and beard. People with dark skin may notice a loss of color inside their mouths.
If your doctor suspects you have vitiligo, he or she will ask about your medical history and examine you. Important factors in your medical history include:
• A family history of vitiligo or an autoimmune disease
• A personal history of sun sensitivity or other skin conditions
• A rash, sunburn or other skin trauma within two to three months of the start of pigment loss
• A history of melanoma or multiple, atypical moles
• Premature graying of the hair (before age 35)
• Stress or physical illness
Your Doctor can use a device called a Woods lamp, which shines ultraviolet (UV) light onto the skin, to determine whether you have vitiligo.
• biopsy of thr affected skin can confirm the diagnosis.
• Draw blood to check your blood cell count, thyroid function and to look for the presence of anti-nuclear antibodies (a type of autoantibody) that would indicate an autoimmune disease & to rule out pernicious anemia
• Solar protection – If you have vitiligo, particularly if you have fair skin, use sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays. Sunscreen helps protect your skin from sunburn and long-term damage. Sunscreen also minimizes tanning, which makes the contrast between normal and depigmented skin less noticeable.
• Camouflage – the use of cosmetics, such as make-up and tanning lotions, to cover up the patches of depigmented skin.
• Use mild soap for bathing and avoid rubbing skin vigorously after a bath (fiction can trigger new patches)
• Avoid Trauma which can trigger depigmentation.
• Avoid mental stress – take effective steps to identify and tackle with stress, if it exists
• Supplementation with vitamin B12, folic acid and pantothenic acid has been seen to have beneficial effects in Vitiligo patients (it has been credited with the formation of new melanin). Patients should include adequate lentils, eggs and yogurt in their daily diet for the same.
Homeopathy & Vitiligo :
Clinical studies emphasize on treating vitiligo as a systemic disorder and not a local skin disease. It is evident that numerous factors such as genetics, emotional and physical factors trigger vitiligo and may precipitate destabilization of the immune system. Prognosis with Homeopathic treatment depends on certain criteria such as the location, duration, extent of spread and the disease activity. It also depends on the general health of the patients and the presence of other systemic illnesses such as thyroid disorders, auto-immune diseases, etc.
Vitiligo if treated early can be prevented from progression, patient with fewer and smaller patches has better treatment outcome
Vitiligo over bony prominences, around lips, on tips of fingers and toes and generalized extensive Vitiligo show slow improvement. Even after starting the treatment, patient may notice occurrence of some new spots; however, this is because it takes some time to control the disease activity and balance the immune system.
Homeopathic treatment has no side effects & safe for all age groups.