Discolored skin can make you feel self-conscious, especially when the contrast between skin tones is severe and the effect is widespread.
Vitiligo is a condition that destroys the cells that give your skin its unique color, resulting in patches of depigmented skin.
Do I have vitiligo?
Symptoms Usually Appear Before or Around Age 20
Each patient experiences vitiligo differently. Focal vitiligo can affect the face, hands, arms, legs, and feet, while generalized vitiligo affects all parts of the body.
In some cases, vitiligo can cause discoloration of the retina, the light-sensitive tissue on the back inner surface of the eye.
Streaks of White Hair
Vitiligo can also brighten the pigment throughout different parts of your scalp, eyelashes, eyebrows, and facial hair.
Vitiligo Has No Known Cause
The cause of vitiligo is not known. However, doctors and scientists speculate that there could be several reasons why the condition occurs.
Let's take a closer look...
The U.S. National Library of Medicine reports that about 20 percent of those with vitiligo have at least one family member who also suffers from the condition.
Autoimmune disorders cause the body to attack itself and could potentially destroy melanocyte cells. Thyroid diseases and other autoimmune deficiencies are common in patients with vitiligo.
It is suspected that emotional distress or a severe sunburn can trigger vitiligo. Studies are currently exploring this possibility.
"If you have vitiligo and want to treat it, you should discuss treatment options with a dermatologist. There are many treatment options..." American Academy of Dermatology
Ways of Coping with Vitiligo
Protect Your Skin
If you have been diagnosed with vitiligo, you should wear sunscreen and avoid excessive sun exposure. When your pigmented skin becomes tan, the effects of vitiligo are more noticeable.
Many patients have reported that stress or emotional trauma can trigger a spread of vitiligo. Practice yoga or another therapeutic activity to reduce your stress levels.
Although the condition is not life-threatening, vitiligo can cause decreased self-esteem and depression. Share your concerns with your doctor. You'll quickly find that you are not alone.
Your Doctor Can Diagnose Vitiligo
A doctor can diagnose vitiligo by conducting a series of exams. These may include physical assessments with an ultraviolet light to highlight areas affected by vitiligo, a family history evaluation, medical health exam, biopsy, blood test, or an eye exam.
Your Options Range From Makeup to Surgery
There are several means of improving your complexion and achieving emotional relief:
Many patients choose to use makeup and self-tanners to conceal patches of depigmented skin on a day-to-day basis.
For small areas of the skin affected by vitiligo, your doctor can prescribe a corticosteroid cream to help your skin regain pigment. About half of patients who use these creams regain some color in their skin within six months.
Laser or Light Therapy
For more extensive cases of vitiligo, your doctor may recommend light box, excimer laser, or UVA light therapy. A specialized treatment known as PUVA light therapy can be between 50 and 75 percent effective at re-pigmenting the skin.
If you have a few isolated patches of affected skin, your doctor can perform a skin graft to replace depigmented areas.
Explore Your Options with a Doctor
Although there is no known cure for vitiligo, relief is possible. A doctor can recommend a treatment based on your goals and other factors. Consult a skin care professional today to explore your treatment options.