Vitiligo: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments
The Vitiligo is a disorder of skin pigmentation which is manifested by the appearance of white spots in various parts of the body. It is estimated, according to medical data, that it affects 2% of the population, the greater proportion of young people (between 20 and 30 years).
This benign disease occurs when melanocytes are destroyed, the cells responsible for providing color to the skin. Vitiligo can also affect the eyes and mucous membranes (nose and mouth). Why is it produced? What are its symptoms? How is it treated? Let’s look, more closely, what is behind the vitiligo
What is it
The vítiligo is an alteration of the skin caused by multiple factors that destroy melanocytes, cells that produce melanin, pigment that brings color to the skin, hair and eyes.
The appearance of white spots on the skin is the main symptom, spots that tend to grow steadily over the years, although this varies in each patient. The spots appear mainly in exposed areas, such as hands, arms, feet and face. It can also appear around the mouth, navel, eyes and genitals.
The spots do not produce any symptoms, nor itch, but often go together with an earlier appearance of gray hairs in the hair of those who suffer from vitiligo.
The real cause remains unknown, although medical theories point to multiple factors that cause the destruction of melanin. There are also genetic causes behind it, as according to medical data in three out of ten cases there is a family history of vitiligo.
However, it is also considered an autoimmune disease, while it has linked the appearance of vitiligo with intense episodes of emotional stress, such as the loss of a loved one, so it is also known as the disease of melancholy. It can also be a result of a sunburn or physical trauma.
To analyze the skin the doctor often used known as the Wood lamp. In some cases it may also be necessary to perform a biopsy of the lesion where no melanocytes are observed and thus rule out other possible causes related to loss of skin pigmentation. A blood test will also be done.
It should be noted that the treatment of vitiligo requires time. Today, thanks to advances in medicine, there are topical drugs to apply to the skin, such as corticosteroid creams, vitamin D derivatives (calcipotriol) and immunomodulators (tacrolimus and pimecrolimus).
Another alternative is phototherapy, with UVB, or therapy with PUVA (psoralen and ultraviolet A). When stains affect very large areas of the skin, the doctor may recommend treatment based on corticosteroids, amino acids such as phenylalanine and other associated treatments.