Vitiligo – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Vitiligo - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Vitiligo is a comman skin condition resulting from loss of pigment which produces white patches. Any part of the body may be affected. Usually both sides of the body are affected. Common areas of involvement are the face, lips, hands, arms, legs, and genital areas.

Causes Of Vitiligo

  • The precise cause is unknown. There are a couple of theories about the cause. One such theory is the autotoxic theory which believes that the pigment-producing cells are self-destructive.
  • Patients with vitiligo are sensitive to free radicals and need aggressive vitamin therapy, see below.
  • Vitiligo is also sometimes associated with some sort of physical skin injury, such as sunburn.
  • Vitiligo sometimes runs in families, meaning that a genetic factor may be involved.
  • Vitiligo sometimes occurs at the site of an old injury.

Symptoms Of Vitiligo

  • Irregularly shaped white patches on the skin.
  • These patches may be large or small.
  • Any part of the body can be affected, however vitiligo is most commonly found on exposed sites such as the face and arms, around body folds such as the armpits or at the site of an injury such as a burn.
  • Body hair in the affected region usually turns white. If the scalp is affected, there may be premature greying of the hair.
  • In some cases, vitiligo can affect the whole body.

Treatment of Vitiligo

  • Avoidance of tanning. For fair-skinned individuals, avoiding tanning of normal skin can make the areas of vitiligo almost unnoticeable.
  • Patients with vitiligo should take a B-complex multivitamin each day. Also take Folic Acid 1 mg, Vitamin E 600 – 800 IU, and ascorbic acid 1000 mg a day.
  • PUVA light treatment has a high success rate. This treatment is very time-consuming.
  • Depigmentation is the destruction of the remaining melanocytes. Patients with vitiligo over half of their exposed body may want to consider using this method. A bleaching chemical called monobenzylether of hydroquinone (Benzoquin) is applied to normally pigmented skin. Treatment may take up to one year.
  • Use a cosmetic cover-up solution. Make-up, self-tanning compounds with dihydroxyacetone, and dyes (such as Covermark, Walnut Stain, Vita Dye or Dermablend) help temporarily conceal the white patches of vitiligo.
  • Tacrolimus or Protopic Topical application may help around the face and neck.

Treatment of Vitiligo in Children

treatment is generally not used in children. Sunscreen and cover-up measures are usually the best treatments. Topical corticosteroids can also be used, but must be monitored. PUVA is usually not recommended until after age 12, and then the risks and benefits of this treatment must be carefully weighed.