Vitiligo is characterized by the presence of white or pale patches on skin or small macules (areas of different skin colour). Vitiligo affects 1-2 million people in the US alone. Vitiligo is prevalent in both genders and all races.
In order to understand the symptoms of Vitiligo, we first need to focus on the causes of disease. Science has not yet been able to pinpoint an exact cause of this disease. However a lot has been understood about the disease in recent years. Several hypotheses have been proposed by scientists to be the causative factor of Vitiligo which include;
Such as Hyperthyroidism or Hypothyroidism increases patient susceptibility to Vitiligo. As per this theory, the gene TYR increases the susceptibility of melanocytes to immune system. As per some researchers the melanocytes themselves are responsible for their own destruction.
Vitiligo may or may not run in a family. Children with Vitiligo parents are more prone to inherit the defected genes.
May also incite melanocyte destruction leading to development of white patches on skin but this hypothesis is in its initial stages. There is no solid evidence to back this claim.
One hypothesis suggests that emotional distress leads to chemical changes in the body which may in return lead to Vitiligo but extensive study is required to strengthen this hypothesis.
Of all these, autoimmune disorder is the most plausible and reliable cause of Vitiligo. More scientific studies are underway expanding on the nature of studies. Hopefully soon the exact cause will be known and thus the remedy will be available. So far as yet, the disease remains a mystery and thus no exact and absolute cure can be provided.
No matter what the cause, it is the white or pale patches on skin that are the biggest discomfort to a patient. Vitiligo patients are often mistaken for leprosy patients and thus avoided and ostracized. This social isolation and sense of rejection leads to psychological depression and patients feel worse. It is important for people, who have Vitiligo patients in their family and surroundings, to make them feel normal and important and not some social outcasts or pariahs. Try not to start at their skin for sometimes our eyes speak our mind and do the damage without any utterance on our part.
The main symptom of Vitiligo is the appearance of patches on skin. There are two types of Vitiligo;
Non – segmental Vitiligo:
- Appears at any age.
- Localized or generalized patches. Patches mostly are generalized to the whole body; a condition which is known as Vitiligo universalis.
- Rapid spread
- Auto-immune disorders play no role.
- As opposed to Non-Segmental Vitiligo it is a much stable type and topical treatment works best for it.
Vitiligo patches mostly appear on the body parts exposed to sun;
- Rectal areas
- Early graying of hair is one of the symptoms of Vitiligo. However, not all the patients with Vitiligo show the signs of early graying of hair.
- Some patients also show a sign of loss of colour in oral cavity.
Vitiligo is one of the rare diseases; it has a worldwide prevalence of less than 1%. Of the two types, Non Segmental is more common. One thing that needs to be understood is that Vitiligo is a chronic disorder, it spreads slowly over years. Mostly the patches appear in the 40th year of the life. That the patches will or will not spread cannot be foretold.