If there is one common skin disorder that takes a toll on self-confidence and causes extreme depression, it is vitiligo. No matter which part of the body it affects, it creates an unappealing look that is hard to handle. However, the problem is curable and you can even take precautions to stay away from it. Whether you want to know about vitiligo prevention and treatment or trying to know about the problem in detail, we are here to help you through this article. Let’s talk everything about vitiligo.
What Is Vitiligo?
Before diving into vitiligo prevention and treatment, let’s talk about the problem itself, its causes and its symptoms. Vitiligo, commonly known as ‘leucoderma’, is a skin disease in which ‘melanocytes’ (pigments that give color to our skin) are destroyed in different parts of the body, thereby turning the skin white and patchy. It can also occur in the tissue that lines the inner parts of nose, mouth, and retina. Though vitiligo is common in both genders and races, it is typically noticeable in dark-skinned people. Also, it can affect people of any age.
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Causes Of Vitiligo
Vitiligo is said to be an autoimmune disorder, wherein the body’s immune system attacks the melanocytes by mistake and destroys them. The stimulus that triggers this is not really known. However, vitiligo has been observed to be hereditary. If one of your parents suffer from vitiligo, you may develop it too. It is also associated with conditions like thyroid dysfunction or hyperthyroidism.
Symptoms Of Vitiligo
Depigmentation or white patches start occurring on the skin, marking the beginning of vitiligo. It can be localized to a small part of the body or spread throughout it. It can also be restricted to one half of the body or even occur symmetrically on both sides. VItiligo is more common in parts of the skin, which are frequently exposed to the sun. These include face (around eyes, nostrils, etc.), inside and around mouth, lips, arms, armpits, hands, navel, groin, feet, genitals, rectal areas, and so on. Patients could even experience premature greying of hair in the scalp, eyebrows, and eyelashes.
There is a common misconception about vitiligo that it is contagious. However, the truth is that it is NOT at all such a condition.
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Prevention Of Vitiligo
If Vitiligo runs in your family and you want to be on the safe side by taking all sorts of precautions, here are the ways to follow:
Include Minerals In Your Diet
In order to produce melanin, our body needs tyrosine and tyrosinase. Tyrosine is a by-product of metabolism while tyrosinase needs to be obtained through foods rich in minerals (iron, copper, and zinc). If you want the melanin production in your body to be optimum, make sure that you get enough minerals by consuming proper food.
Avoid Pollution And UV Rays
Since the exact trigger of this autoimmune disorder is still not known, it is always the best to prevent the body from getting exposed to too much pollution – be it environmental or through food. Avoid inhaling dust and smoke as much as possible. At the same time, make sure that you wash away pesticides from vegetables before cooking. Also, try to reduce exposure to the harmful UV rays.
Maintain Emotional Health
Emotional upheavals can make your vitiligo even worse. So, remain calm and composed, practice meditation and stop exerting too much stress on your mind.
Treatment Of Vitiligo
While talking about vitiligo prevention and treatment, you must remember that it is not a life-threatening disease. Rather, it does more psychological damages than physiological ones. Hence, the goal of the treatment is to improve the appearance of the troubled areas of the skin as much as possible. The therapy for vitiligo can last up to 2 years and there are multiple treatment options including the following:
Topical vitiligo treatments are basically steroid creams that contain corticosteroids like acetonide. These creams help in re-pigmenting the white patches on the skin, which takes around 3 months to show considerable results.
This is a photo-chemotherapy in which psoralen is used on the white patches of the skin. Psoralen is a substance that reacts with damaging UV rays of the sun and causes darkening of the skin in the regions in which it is administered. People with small white patches of vitiligo can apply this treatment topically. However, if the vitiligo is extensive, it is administered orally and followed up with an exposure to the artificial UV light.
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This is the treatment prescribed for people with more than 50% of their body attacked by vitiligo. In this method, depigmentation is done for the rest of the body (excluding the white patches) so that the entire body has a uniform skin tone.
‘Skin grafting’ is one of the most common surgical treatments for vitiligo. As the name implies, it involves the placement of the ‘grafts of healthy skin’ on the white patches in order to give them a normal and healthy look. Another surgical option is ‘melanocyte transplant’. In this process, ‘melanocytes’ and ‘keratinocytes’ are obtained from the patient and grown in culture labs. They are then transferred to the affected areas of the skin to restore its natural color.
Words To Remember
Melanin not only gives color to our skin but also protects it from the harmful effects of the sun. If your skin does not contain enough melanin, it will turn photo-sensitive, thereby making you susceptible to sunburn, UV damages, and skin cancer. Hence, if several parts of your skin lack pigments and you end up developing vitiligo, make sure that you opt for the right treatment immediately in order to stay safe and healthy.
Vitiligo does a lot of psychological damages by bringing down the confidence levels of people. Well, the key is to remain strong and go through the treatment religiously since it is a curable disease.