Vitiligo is a very common skin disorder in which the cells that provide colour to the skin get damaged. This results in a kind of white patches which will appear on different parts of the body. These white patches may pop up at any part of the body. Melanocytes are the cells which give colour to the skin. When these cells get damaged, skin loses the natural colour and results in vitiligo. Vitiligo may even affect the tissues inside the mouth and nose. It normally affects the parts of body where the skin is more exposed to sun.
Studies had found that, about 1 person in 100 in the world gets vitiligo. Even though it is not a fatal disease, it may affect an individuals personal as well as social lifestyle. Most common area where vitiligo appears is hands, face, arms, lips and feet. They may even appear on genitals in rare cases. The exact cause of vitiligo is not yet known. Vitiligo develops when the Melanocytes are being destroyed by the immune system. It may even develop as a result of a problem with the gene. Some experts believe that these Melanocytes are destroyed by themselves. While some others think that sunburn or emotional distress can be the reason for vitiligo. Simply put, the main causes for vitiligo can be:
- Auto-immune disorder
- Genetic tendencies
- Hormonal connections
- Neural theory
- Trauma or stress
- Basic defect of Melanocytes
- Disturbance in oxidant-antioxidant systems and
- Other factors
Both men and women have chances to get vitiligo. People who have autoimmune disorders like hyperthyroidism are more at risk of getting vitiligo. It can be even inherited.
Vitiligo usually develops in one of three patterns:
- Focal pattern ? De-pigmentation only in one or only a few areas
- Segmental pattern ? De-pigmented spots that develop on one side of the body
- Generalized pattern ? This is the most commonly seen pattern in individuals. Depigmentation occurs equally on both sides of the body.