Vitiligo affects about 70 million people globally. It is not a dangerous disease but can result in serious mental distress. In fact, the psychological torment that vitiligo often causes is far worse than its physical tortures.
Most people get vitiligo on their hands, legs and face. This happens when melanin stops being produced or very little of it is made. Without melanin, the skin becomes milky-white. Depigmentation begins on small localized areas but often develops into larger patches. See full vitiligo definition for more details.
Anyone can get vitiligo regardless of their sex, race or ethnicity. Although age is not a risk factor, most cases begin before 20 and 40 years of age. It is not easy to treat vitiligo but it can be done. Treatment doesn’t necessarily cure the disease but seeks to even skin tone and restore lost pigment. Currently, there is no known cure for vitiligo.
Vitiligo on face pictures, causes and treatments
When you have vitiligo on the face, nothing is seriously wrong in you. It is probably some genetic defect, the results of an overactive immune system or effects of stress.
The problem is that white patches on the face are very likely to be extremely conspicuous. Bearing in mind that most people may not understand what is going on, a patient can soon become the center of negative attention. This often lowers the patient’s self-esteem. Cases like Krizz Kaliko vitiligo saga can be used a source of inspiration.
A vitiligo patch or spot on face is hard to go unnoticed. For this reason, patients often seek medical attention when the disease is still at its early stages.
The type that mostly occurs on face is non-segmental vitiligo. It is characterized by the appearance of white skin patches on body areas that mirror each other. Vitiligo on the face usually affects the areas around the eyes, around the lips and cheeks. It may also extend to the neck and chin. Severe cases involve most of or the whole face.
Treating a localized vitiligo patch on the face is not very difficult. Medications and some light therapy may be all that is required. Complications set in when dealing with vitiligo on the face near the eyes, in the eyes or on the lips. Most doctors in fact advise patients to focus on controlling the spread rather than treating such cases.
Doctors may also try to control an underlying problem thought to be causing vitiligo. This can stop further spread but will not restore lost pigment. For that, treatment with medications and therapies will be required.
Other than active treatment approaches, vitiligo on face can be managed with cosmetics and sunscreens. Cosmetics work by concealing the patches while sunscreens protect from sunburns. A professional can help with decision making on the best products to use in this case.
Vitiligo eyes causes and treatment
Vitiligo eye symptoms can occur inside the eyes or on the skin surrounding the eyes. The former is harder to treat. When vitiligo develops inside the eyes, it is known as mucosal vitiligo. This is the same type that occurs on orifices such as in rectal area, nostrils and inside the mouth.
Treatments commonly used to treat vitiligo on other body areas are usually not possible options in the case of vitiligo in eyes. For example PUVA is considered the most effective vitiligo treatment. It depends on a combination of psoralen and UVA light to restore pigment. The problem is that psoralen is harmful when exposed to the eyes.
Another limitation when treating vitiligo of the eyes is the fact that the number of melanocytes that occur in mucous membranes is not large. This means that even mild autoimmune disorders can result in loss of most of these cells, causing vitiligo.
If vitiligo near or in the eyes is not spreading, the best way to deal with it is using colored cosmetics to conceal it. That is, as long as it is solely a cosmetic problem. Your doctor may suggest a different treatment approach however. For example, a disease such as diabetes type 1 or thyroid disease may show up during diagnosis. Treatment may be done to manage the disease and in the process keep vitiligo from spreading further.
Vitiligo on lips pictures and treatment
In pictures, vitiligo on the lips is shown to often develop on both lips. The type that affects the lips is sometimes referred to as lip-tip because it shows a tendency to also develop on fingers and toes.
Vitiligo skin disorder on the lips is one of the hardest types to treat. The commonly used methods are micropigmentation and camouflage. Micropigmentation involves implanting pigment into the affected lips. The main drawback is that even skin tone may not be achieved perfectly. Also, trauma produced during the implantation process may trigger other vitiligo cycles. Camouflaging involves use of cosmetics to conceal the effects of vitiligo. A professional can be approached to help come up with the best vitiligo makeup.
A doctor is most likely going to advise that you focus your efforts on keeping the vitiligo under control rather than curing it. This can be done in a variety of ways, including with home treatments.
Vitiligo on legs causes and treatments
Vitiligo on the legs can appear anywhere, including on bony areas like the knees and ankles. Both segmental and non-segmental vitiligo types can occur on the legs.
If signs of mild vitiligo are confined to small areas or individual spots, patients have higher chances of effective treatment. This cannot be said about large patches, especially ones showing signs of rapid spread.
Light therapies and medications like corticosteroids can be used to restore color to vitiligo affected areas on legs. The success rate depends on how severely affected the legs are.
Vitiligo on bony areas such as ankles, toes and knees is better controlled than treated. These areas rarely regain lost pigment.
Vitiligo on arms causes and treatments
Vitiligo on the arms often appears on upper side of hands and forearms but can also occur even on the shoulder. It can be genetic or caused by an autoimmune activity. Stress is a common trigger for vitiligo on hands.
People with localized patches or spots respond very well to treatment. In fact, pigment may be regained with light therapy and corticosteroids. Large and symmetrical patches are harder to treat.
It is not uncommon to see vitiligo on elbows. In this case, treatment is mostly done to keep it from spreading. Complete depigmentation is hard to achieve in such areas.
Vitiligo on back causes and treatments
Vitiligo on the back is not as distressing as on face or hands. The problem is that it can keep spreading to other more noticeable areas.
It is only after diagnosis that the actual cause can be predicted. Vitiligo wood’s lamp is often used to rule out other skin conditions that may be causing loss of pigment. In most cases, vitiligo has something to do with genetic predisposition or autoimmune activity. Blood tests and biopsies are used to confirm or rule out such causes.
Your doctor will suggest several treatments that may be used to treat vitiligo on the back. If not interested in gaining back lost pigment, ways to keep white spots from spreading will be suggested.
Vitiligo hair effects and pictures
How does vitiligo affect hair? People with vitiligo can have normal colored, grey or white hair. As said before, vitiligo develops when melanocytes are not present to produce melanin. This is mostly as a result of overactive immune cells that attack healthy melanocytes.
Sometimes, only the melanocytes in the epidermis are destroyed. This is especially common in the early stages of vitiligo. Since the melanocytes that give pigment to hair are located in the follicles, hair will continue to be normal colored even when growing on vitiligo affected areas.
Long-term vitiligo may lead to immature graying or whitening of hair. This occurs when melanocytes in follicles are also destroyed. It’s likely that there will be signs of other autoimmune diseases by the time this happens. For example, being thirsty and frequent urge to pass urine are signs of diabetes. Sluggishness and extreme fatigue are signs of thyroid disease. Managing such diseases may keep vitiligo from spreading. In rare cases, vitiligo hair signs will appear before the skin loses pigment.
It has been found that immature melanocytes are present in hair follicles alongside the mature ones. One implication of this fact is that surgery can be done to restore melanocytes and as a result regain lost pigment.
Conventional treatments for vitiligo
Vitiligo is yet to be fully understood. When that happens, it is hoped that better treatment methods will be available. Currently, conventional vitiligo treatment is done with:
Corticosteroids are the primary medications used to treat vitiligo. They work by restoring skin pigment. Best results are achieved when treatment is started early. To improve results, light therapy is often used alongside. Corticosteroids come in form of creams to be applied directly. Caution should be taken when using them for vitiligo in children due to side effects such as skin thinning.
For small areas and localized spots, lasers can be used to stimulate melanin production. Widespread vitiligo on the other hand requires use of light boxes.
The more common and effective form of light therapy is PUVA. Here, psoralen and UVA light are used to restore pigment. Psoralen is taken by mouth or applied directly. Afterwards, UVA light is used to promote production of melanocytes. This treatment has a success rate of about 75%. However, some of the regained pigment may disappear after few years, especially if the cause of vitiligo is not addressed.
Surgery is considered when other treatments have failed. It involves transplanting melanocytes from healthy areas to affected areas. Different forms and ways to carry out surgery for vitiligo treatment are applicable depending on a number of factors. It has a success rate of more than 90%. Main drawback is the fact that the patient may have to deal with scarring or cobblestone-like skin. There also is no guarantee that it will work.
A number of home treatments for vitiligo have been suggested over the years. Most of them lack enough clinical trials and therefore cannot be prescribed for treatment. They however may improve vitiligo signs in one way or another.
Ginkgo biloba and vitamins C&B-12 are perhaps the most common examples. Gingko biloba has been involved in a number of clinical trials. Reports suggested that it may restore skin pigment. There are other vitamins for vitiligo and minerals that may be of help. For example, zinc helps keep the immune system healthy. This can reduce cases of autoimmune activities. Copper on the other hand stimulates production of melanocytes. In fact, Ayurveda medicine recommends keeping drinking water in copper containers for 24 hours before drinking to increase copper levels in the body.
Other home treatments include managing stress, choosing the right diet and taking care of the skin. Your doctor or a professional may help in this case.
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