MD REVIEW

Spotlight on Vitiligo

People Notice Vitiligo

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Your vitiligo is more obvious to you than to others. Yet, you have learned to look beyond the spots. Others can too if you convey confi­dence. You might have many questions right now about your condition.

How common is vitiligo? Is it possible to even out my skin? Will my children inherit it? How can I maintain public confidence? Do environ­mental factors impact my vitiligo? How can derma­tolo­gy help me? This article aims to provide answers that will instill confidence in you.

Rest assured, vitiligo does not impact most normal day-to-day activities. It is not contagious or life-threatening.

Why Do I Have Vitiligo?

Vitiligo hands
The contrast of vitiligo is more noticeable on dark skin.

Vitiligo affects people of all ages, ethnicity, and skin types. The incidence rate of vitiligo is 0.1% to 2% world­wide. Genetics, auto­immune diseases, and environ­mental factors cause varia­tion in skin pigmenta­tion. Very light patches of skin can appear on any part of your body. Face, neck, and hands are most affected by this condition.

White vitiligo patches appear due to the loss of melanin, the hormone respon­sible for skin color. Elusive destruc­tion of melano­cytes inhibits melanin production.

Vitiligo on female hip
Vitiligo can affect any complexion.

In most cases, areas of depigmenta­tion increase with age. Some people experience itching before a new patch appears. Vitiligo can take a toll on your emotional health if you dwell on your appearance.

How Vitiligo Progresses In The Body

Some scientists believe that intrinsic factors and auto­immunity decrease melano­cytes. Intrinsic factors include the production of free radicals in melanocytes. These can damage the DNA or RNA of a cell. This initiates the cell’s innate immunity. As a result, natural killer cells, inflam­matory dendritic cells, and auto­reactive T cells activate within melanocytes.

Role of Environmental Factors

Your environment also contributes to vitiligo develop­ment. Exposure to phenolic compounds within resins, paints, and adhesives can damage melano­cytes. Phenolic compounds interfere with melanin produc­tion, causing stress to cells. This induces an inflam­ma­tory response and auto­immune attack on melanocytes.

Dermatologist Remedies For Vitiligo

Spots on Skin

Certain dermatology interven­tions can reduce the impact of vitiligo. A derma­tolo­gist can suggest a combina­tion of treat­ments to limit the effect. Options depend upon age, health, and personal preference. An individual may prefer no treatment. Makeup, skin dyes, and tanners can camou­flage white patches of skin.

Steroids Help Treat Vitiligo

A dermatologist may recommend a cream or oint­ment contain­ing corti­costeroids. Applying topical steroids to white patches can minimize the non-pigmented area of the skin in some patients. They can help regain original skin color after 4 to 6 months. Light and laser treatment are other options.

Other Treatment Options

Surgery is also a consideration for stable vitiligo on adults, not children. A medicine called psoralen is effective in reducing vitiligo by 50% to 75%. Some­times UVA light improves results of psoralen. Professionals consider light treat­ment more often for widespread vitiligo than small patches.

Most effective vitiligo treat­ment focuses on depigmented areas. Total depig­menta­tion is a last option if all the other treat­ments fail. This removes all the pigment in your skin, resulting in a completely white color. Skin becomes more vulnerable to the sun due to loss of melanin. Use sun­screen to avoid sunburns.

How To Cope With Vitiligo

Vitiligo pale hand
Vitiligo can be less noticeable on pale skin.

Behind the heavy makeup and photo retouching in today’s media, every­one has imper­fections. Some people with vitiligo develop eye inflam­ma­tion or hearing loss. But these affect others without vitiligo too.

Having a condition you can’t easily hide can negatively impact your self-esteem. It may take time for onlookers to appreciate the beauty in your skin’s appear­ance. But other vitiligans are coming into the spotlight.

Fashion model Winnie Harlow and ballerina Michaela DePrince are two examples. Emmy award winning entertain­ment reporter Lee Thomas has become a spokes­person for vitiligo. By not focusing on the spots, you can accomplish whatever you set your mind to do.

To support the writing of useful articles about dermatology, ClinicalPosters sells human anatomy posters, scientific posters and other products online. Slide extra posters into DeuPair Frames without removing from the wall or leave an encourag­ing comment to keep the work going. Stay safe and A Bit More Healthy.

References
  1. Yaghoobi R, Omidian M, Bagherani N. Vitiligo: a review of the published work. J Dermatol. 2011 May;38(5):419-31. doi:10.1111/j.1346-8138.2010.01139.x. PMID: 21667529.
  2. Njoo MD, Westerhof W. Vitiligo. Pathogenesis and treatment. Am J Clin Dermatol. 2001;2(3):167-81. doi:10.2165/00128071-200102030-00006. PMID: 11705094.
  3. Rodrigues M, Ezzedine K, Hamzavi I, Pandya AG, Harris JE; Vitiligo Working Group. New discoveries in the pathogenesis and classification of vitiligo. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2017 Jul;77(1):1-13. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2016.10.048. PMID: 28619550.
  4. Travis LB, Silverberg NB. Calcipotriene and corticosteroid combination therapy for vitiligo. Pediatr Dermatol. 2004 Jul-Aug;21(4):495-8. doi:10.1111/j.0736-8046.2004.21418.x. PMID: 15283800.
  5. Vitiligo. American Academy of Dermatology Association. (2020) aad.org/public/diseases/a-z/vitiligo-treatment Retrieved 12 Oct 2021
  6. 5 Celebrities With Vitiligo. ghp-news.com/5-celebrities-with-vitiligo/ Retrieved 12 Oct 2021
  7. Michaela DePrince. mobballet.org/index.php/2017/02/07/michaela-deprince/ Retrieved 12 Oct 2021
  8. Lee Thomas Shares His Vitiligo Journey: ‘I Am Not My Disease’. mibluesperspectives.com/2020/01/31/lee-thomas-shares-his-vitiligo-journey-i-am-not-my-disease/ Retrieved 12 Oct 2021

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