What is vitiligo?
Vitiligo is a long term skin condition signalize by patches of the skin losing their pigment. The patches of skin affected become clearly white and as a rule have sharp edges. Even the hair from the skin can also turn into white colour. Generally the patches start appearing on areas of skin that are more exposed to the sun. It is more evident in people having dark skin. Vitiligo can give rise to psychological stress and those affected may be stigmatized.
What are signs and symptoms of vitiligo?
The lone sign of vitiligo is the presence of pale patchy areas of de-pigmented skin which likely to arise on the extremities. In the beginning, the patches are normally very small, but generally grow and change their shape. In case of skin lesions, they are most prominent on the face, wrists and hands. The loss of skin pigmentation is mostly visible around body orifices, like eyes, mouth, genitalia, nostrils and umbilicus. Some lesions have augmented skin pigment around the edges. People affected by vitiligo condition might experience depression and other mood disorders.
What are the Causes?
Though several hypotheses have been recommended as possible triggers that cause vitiligo, researches strongly show that changes in the immune system are mainly accountable for the condition. Vitiligo has been suggested to be a multifactorial disease with genetic susceptibility and environmental factors both collectively play main role in causing it.
The TYR gene encodes the protein tyrosinase, which is not a component of the immune system, but is an enzyme of the melanocyte that catalyzes melanin biosynthesis, and a major autoantigen in generalized vitiligo. The NIH believe that sunburns may also cause the disease but there is not strong evidence to support this notion. Some preliminary evidences imply a probable association with eating gluten as well.
Variations in genes that are either part of the immune system or melanocytes both have been linked with vitiligo. As per some other notions it is also thought to be resulted by the immune system attacking and destroying the melanocytes of the skin.
Who is affected by it?
A lot of people develop this disorder in their twenties; however, it can arise at any age. People of all races and both genders can get affected by vitiligo equally. However, in majority of cases, it is more noticeable in people having dark complexion.
People affected with some autoimmune diseases like hyperthyroidism are at more risk to get vitiligo as compared to those who do not have any autoimmune diseases. Researchers do not have any strong evidence why this disorder is associated with these diseases. However, majority of people suffering with vitiligo have no other autoimmune disease.
Vitiligo might also run in families. Those kids whose parents have vitiligo are more likely to develop vitiligo. However, generally children will not get it even if one parent has it.
How is vitiligo treated?
There are different treatments available which might help make the skin look more even. The choice of treatment mainly depends on following factors:
• How widespread the patches are
• The number of white patches
• The treatment the person wants to apply
However, a number of treatments are not right for everyone. Several treatments may result in some unwanted side effects. Even some treatments can take a long time, and in some cases they may also don’t work.
The modern treatment options available for vitiligo include surgical, medical, and other treatments. The majority of treatments aim at restoring colour to the white patches of skin.
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