“Vitiligo is a relatively common, acquired loss of pigmentation of the skin affecting 1% to 2% of the population. Destruction of melanocytes or pigment cells occurs and the skin becomes white. The most common sites of pigment loss are body folds (like the groin or armpits ), around body openings and exposed areas like the face or hands. It can develop at sites of injury: cuts, scrapes and burns. Vitiligo can begin at any age, but in half of all affected patients, its onset is noted before the age of 20.”
Vitiligo is associated with a number of autoimmune conditions – most notably diabetes and thyroid disease. The cause of the condition is unknown but is associated with previously mentioned autoimmune conditions, skin trauma, anxiety and stress, and there may be a genetic link.
Vitiligo appears as asymptomatic white lesions on the skin with well-defined edges. These lesions may remain localised or may spread around the body. The hair within the affected area may be white and the patient may experience early greying of hair on the scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes, and face.
Treatment options depend on the emotional effect the condition has on the individual. Camouflage can be achieved through the application of makeup or cosmetic tattoo. Medical treatment consists of “topical corticosteroids, light therapy with photosensitising psoralen drugs applied topically or given systemically in conjunction with sunlight exposure or UVA phototherapy (PUVA ), narrow-band UVB phototherapy, and other topical agents-calcipotriol, pimecrolimus and tacrolimus.” Surgical grafting of skin from unaffected areas can also be tried as can laser application to the area.
For more information regarding Vitiligo visit the Vitiligo Association of Australia>>
Photo used attributed to La Verdad [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]