Despite its tone and type, skin color is usually evenly spread all over the body. However, some people might experience a slightly different thing. They possess an issue which causes the skin all over the body develop in an uneven color. This condition is referred as vitiligo.
What is vitiligo?
Vitiligo can be suffered by anyone, including children and adults. This skin issue is caused by loss of skin pigment which causes white spots or patches to appear on the skin. Vitiligo may affects various body parts, such as legs, arms, neck, or face. Although vitiligo is upsetting, since it affects one’s appearance, it is in fact, medically harmless. Vitiligo is not a sign of a cancer and other medical issues. This skin problem is also not contagious. Hence, you cannot get it from and transfer it to someone else.
Risk factors of vitiligo
The main cause of vitiligo remains unknown. Thus, it is believed as one of those autoimmune diseases, which occurs because the immune system mistakenly attacks your own body. In this case, the immune system attacks the melanocytes—the cells inside the body which determines skin color. As the result, the skin seems to stop producing melanin. However, race, gender, and skin tones do not contribute to the occurrence of vitiligo. Instead, this disease tends to occur in the family. Persons with both light and dark complexion have an equal chance of developing vitiligo, although this is more visible on people with darker skin.
Knowing the occurrence of vitiligo
Vitiligo may be confused with other skin problems, such as ringworms. To differentiate between the two, and to know that you are developing vitiligo, you might need to scrutinize some conditions:
- Commonly, vitiligo is signed by the occurrence of white spots on the skin. Vitiligo may occur in any areas of the body, although some areas below are usually more susceptible:
- Skin which is in direct contact with sun exposure, such as hands, arms, legs, and face.
- Skin with folds, such as elbows, armpits, and knees.
- Skin around the eyes, nostrils, and genital.
These white spots may stay in size and shape, or develop into bigger white patches, which spread into the whole body area. Despite its appearance, white patches in vitiligo do not cause itching or burning sensation if compared to ringworm. A rapid change in your skin color may also be noticeable. However, this usually lasts for a while and will stop in some point when the patches have fully developed. This patch development can also be triggered by sunburn, so that protecting your skin from excessive sunburn is beneficial.
Vitiligo is also signed by premature grey hair. When someone develops vitiligo, they might notice the change in the hair which starts to gray. In many cases, this is not the only sign. Instead, graying hair also happens to the eyebrow and other facial hair. This is also caused by insufficient amount of melanin which is caused by the disappearance of melanocytes.
There is no exact cure for vitiligo, since this is an autoimmune disease which can vary between individuals. Early stages of skin discoloration may respond to steroid therapy to treat this uneven skin tone. However, some laser therapies may produce effects which cannot be observed instantly. Thus, many people experiencing vitiligo prefer covering it with foundation for instant coverage. Some people find it effective to cover and minimize discoloration, especially for conceal the effect of vitiligo on the facial skin. Some surgery treatments can also be considered to treat vitiligo, although this might be costly. People with stable and unchanged vitiligo may undergo this therapy, like Michael Jackson once did.