Vitiligo: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis & Treatment

Vaibhav Saxena

, Health A2Z

Vitiligo is a skin disorder which leads to many social and psychological troubles for the sufferer. As many often the sufferer has to encounter racism and discrimination which causes emotional disbalance and stress.

It is very common that a sufferer gets difficulty in getting along with people due to human behavior of discrimination. Let’s learn about this disorder Vitiligo properly so that we can treat all of us equally as skin doesn’t define a person.


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What is Vitiligo?

This is an ancient disease which has been discussed in Indian Atharveda and Egyptian Ebers Papyrus. This disease is the process of depigmentation, which is defined by the loss of pigment in the skin or excessive skin whitening, in simpler words.


It is a long-term disease where the affected patches on the skin become white in color and can turn the hair thriving over the blotch. This disease can affect multiple parts of the body with sharp margins around the blotch.


This disease starts to develop at the age of 20 and the growth is undefined and unpredictable. The vitiligo is caused when melanocytes within the skin die off. Melanocytes are the cells present in the skin which are responsible for protecting the skin from harmful rays like UV, hence, this makes the disease photosynthetic in nature.


There are generally three types of Vitiligo:

  • Non-segmental vitiligo affects many parts of the body.
  • Segmental vitiligo affects only one side or part of the body.
  • Localized (focal) vitiligo affects one or very few parts of the body.




What are the Symptoms of Vitiligo?

This disease acquires a quite large population of the world which comprises 0.5 to 2%. There is only one major visible symptom of this disease which is the presence of pale patchy areas of depigmented skin which becomes paler as the time passes.


During the initial state, a very minor pale patch starts to appear on the skin which is difficult to detect which soon turns white with sharp boundaries.


There is no particular shape or area fixed for the occurrence of these patches as it has the tendency to occur near the eye or inside the mouth as well. Also, no sign of rashes, irritation, burn or dryness are detected on the skin.




What are the Causes of Vitiligo?

There is no such particular and definite cause for the disease but many hypotheses made by experts suggest the immunity system disorders cause this disease.


The chronic deficiency of melanocytes which produce the pigment called melanin which is responsible for coloring the skin and hair are considered the main reason behind this disease. The major causes are enlisted below.

  • Auto-immune disorder in which melanocytes are attacked and destroyed
  • Heredity
  • Sunburn
  • Stress
  • Chemical Reaction




How is the Vitiligo Diagnosed?


In order to diagnose this disease, the doctor will conduct the following exams or tests to ensure the criticality of the disease and begin the suitable treatment.

  • Medical history test
  • Blood draw
  • Eyes exam
  • Skin biopsy


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What are the Treatment Measures for Vitiligo?


There are many treatment measures available for this disease. Whereas there are side effects hidden in the treatment procedure as well so one must consult the doctor and follow the guidance and procedure provided by the doctor only. The treatment may vary according to your skin type, sensitivity, and kind of your vitiligo.


1. Medication

It is proven after researches that no drug or medicines have the ability to erode away this disease from its roots and cater you with fresh new skin. However, using sunscreen at the early stage of the disease can help in healing the skin color back to normal and reduce inflammation.

Also, medication to repair the immunity system of the body is a great option to tackle the disease by avoiding any future troubles.



2. Therapies

  • Psoralen and light therapy: It is an effective way to resurrect the pigment of the skin by applying the psoralen on the skin or consuming it through the mouth and exposing the affected skin directly to ultraviolet A (UVA), UVB light or excimer light.
  • Depigmentation: It is a therapy in which depigmenting agent is applied on the affected area twice a day for over 9 months. This process is conducted when all other options have failed.



3. Surgery

  •  Skin grafting: It is a long-term process in which the doctor carves out the healthy skin to place it over the affected screen. This process is rare as it leaves scars at both the places where the skin is placed and carved.
  •  Tattooing: This process is also called micro pigmentation. It is a process where the doctor uses an invasive device to insert the pigment into the skin.
  •  Blister grafting: The doctor creates a blister on the affected skin usually with suction and then the top of the blister is removed to place it over the affected area. This process has disadvantages like scars, redness and very low rate of success.





It is very often that the person suffering from vitiligo tends to suffer from mental tension, stress and low self-esteem troubles which are not good.


The patient must ignore the callous comments of hollow people, communicate with the doctor or relative, should gain full knowledge about the disease and should stay confident about their skin. Also, the person must not adopt any curing method which strange and risky.


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