Vitiligo is a skin condition which means that your skin has lost some pigmentation. Because pigments in your skin, hair, and eyes are what gives it color, this means that there are some areas that have color and some that do no. This can be caused by cells producing less melanin or die and no longer produce melanin at all. That can cause small patches to start losing color, those patches possibly growing larger in the future. These changes tend to cause worry or stress about appearance.
There is no cure for vitiligo, the treatments that are given are too slow the progression of depigmentation and sometimes return some color to skin cells. The condition doesn’t affect a particular body part. Because melanin offers color throughout the body, cells can lose color in all those same places. Skin tends to be the most commonly affected. However, hair and eye color loss are not rare. Affected skin can become especially sensitive and needs protection from sunlight.
Who Can Get Vitiligo?
There is only a small population of people with this condition, one to two percent. This holds no bias to race, sex or age. Each year there are cases of vitiligo worldwide. While it stands out most in people with darker skin, they are no more susceptible than those who are fairer. It is only the case that those with fairer skin can hide it easier. In half of vitiligo cases, it tends to start between the ages of ten and thirty. There are rarely any cases present at birth or in old age. Over thirty percent have a positive family history and the children with vitiligo who have parents with vitiligo are less than ten percent of that community.
People who have family members with thyroid disease and diabetes mellitus appear to have increased risk but are not certain to have vitiligo. While there are genetic and environmental predispositions, many patients believe that physical trauma, emotional stress or illness triggers vitiligo. There is often mention of it starting after the death or a relative or severe physical injury and even a sunburn reaction.
What Does Vitiligo Look Like?
The typical vitiligo macule appears chalk white and has margins which are convex. They tend to be five millimeters to five centimeters, or more, in diameter and round or elongated in shape. It is best to see a professional for diagnosis as the condition is similar to other skin problems which may be symptomatic of something else. In some cases, it might be something like Lupus or Leukoderma. In many cases, your doctor will need to perform tests. This will include a biopsy, to ensure there isn’t a larger problem at hand. Other tests might include a thyroid profile, a fasting blood sugar, and a complete blood count. These will rule out radioimmunoassay, diabetes and pernicious anemia; respectively.
Vitiligo and Pregnancy
A study was conducted of women who were pregnant and had vitiligo. For the subjects, seventy-five percent stated that their condition was stable or improved with pregnancy and only twenty-one percent reported that it was worse. There was a very small number of those who reported onset with pregnancy. Of those who reported a stable or improved status, twenty-eight percent were using topical and/or phototherapy treatments before their pregnancy. These treatments were stopped once they became pregnant. Twenty percent of those surveyed reported worsening with their pregnancy, which was defined as new lesions. Only one of the twenty-four reported an increase in the size of existing lesions. One subject reported that her vitiligo was onset during her first pregnancy and progressed for five years following. However, she became pregnant again and found that through her second pregnancy the activity was stable. She did, however, notice that it worsened postpartum.
If you have vitiligo, there are treatments that can help. While they may not “cure you,” they can begin the process of slowing it down. In some cases, it is possible to return pigmentation to areas that have lost it. You just need to find a professional who is familiar with this disease and knows how to assess your skin for the best treatments. You do not have to be ashamed or shy, they have seen everything and know how hard this can be for you. But, they will help you through this and show you all of the options that are available to give you as much relief as possible. You can start your search here.
While you are waiting for your appointment to come, you can start reading a little more about vitiligo here. Knowing what vitiligo is and how it will affect you will help you talk to a professional about any questions you may have. They will have all of the answers to your questions and some treatments to help.