What are the symptoms and signs of vitiligo?
Vitiligo (leucoderma) is a skin disorder in which the special skin cells, called melanocytes that make pigment in the skin, as well as the tissues, known as the mucous membranes that line the inside of the mouth, nose, genital and rectal areas, and the retina of the eyes, are destroyed. As a result, milky white or light pink patches of skin appear on different parts of the body. The hair may also turn white/grey that grows in areas affected by Vitiligo and on the scalp.
There are three main patterns of Vitiligo, including focal pattern in which the de-pigmentation is limited to one or only a few areas; segmental pattern in which de-pigmented patches develop on just one side of the body; and generalized pattern, the most common pattern, in which de-pigmentation occurs symmetrically on both sides of the body.
This skin disease had been discovered way back in time, and can affect anyone regardless of age, gender and race. Till date, the exact causes of Vitiligo are unknown, and researchers and doctors have come up with many theories regarding the causes of this chronic skin disease. However, this chronic skin disease is more likely to develop in people with certain immune diseases, such as hyperthyroidism, alopecia areata, and pernicious anemia; although, scientists still do not know the exact reason for the association between Vitiligo and these autoimmune diseases. Nevertheless, Vitiligo may also be hereditary; that is, it can run in families. The majority of the people, who have Vitiligo, develop it before age of 20; whereas, some also develop it before the age of 40.
There are many signs and symptoms of Vitiligo. The most basic one is that a person with this skin disease will first start noticing white patches developing on his/her skin. Vitiligo is more likely to affect the skin areas that are more exposed to the sun, such as hands, arms, feet, face and neck and the white patches can be found on these areas precisely. Other common areas for white patches to appear are the armpits and groin, and around the mouth, nostrils, eyes, navel, rectum and genitals. Other Vitiligo Symptoms that can be seen in people is the premature graying of the scalp hair, eyebrows, eyelashes, and beard. The ones having dark skin may notice a loss of color inside their mouths as well.