Vitiligo disease affects nearly two percent of world population, which is very high number. This autoimmune disease is manifested by the appearance of white spots on skin. Although they do not endanger the health of other organs, patients may be under a lot of stress since it is not only health issue, it’s also an aesthetic problem.
Vitiligo is the loss of pigment or color in certain parts of the skin. Any part of the body can be affected. Usually occurs in the hands, feet, forehead, armpits and groin folds, and very rarely can be affected and the entire surface of the skin. The cause of it is not enough known but the key factor is genetic. Exposure to the sun it’s not recommended, because the white spots on the body are very susceptible to burns.
Vitiligo in its early stages manifests small, sharply limited, milky-white patches and in this stage can be itchy. Their size varies from a few millimeters to several centimeters in diameter. With time, their number increases. Changes may be symmetrically or asymmetrically arranged. They are found in the limbs, especially over the knuckles of the hands, the knees and elbows, on the face (around the eyes and lips), in the armpits, around the navel, the lower legs, back, genital area. It can start at any age, usually around the age of 20 (about 50 percent of patients develop symptoms between 10 and 30 years). Equally affects both sexes and among children is more common in girls.
Some symptoms for early stages are:
- Early appearance of gray hair on the scalp, eyelashes, eyebrows or beard;
- Discoloration of the lining of the mouth;
- Loss or change the color of the inner layer of the eye (retina).
As we mention, occurrence of vitiligo is not enough known and with exception of genetics in good measure it may affect the solar burns, trauma and stress. It can manifest itself in people with certain autoimmune diseases in which the immune system reacts against the organs or tissues of its own body. Such autoimmune diseases are diabetes, thyroid disease, pernicious anemia, which is caused by lack of vitamin B12, as well as Addison’s disease, a rare chronic disease that occurs as a result of the destruction of adrenal cortex.
Vitiligo generally appears in one of three types:
Generalized vitiligo – this is the most common subtype of the disease in which depigmentation is widespread in many parts of the body.
Segmental Vitiligo – depigmentation occurs only on one side of the body. This type tends to occur at a younger age, progressing over one or two years and then stops.
Focal vitiligo – depigmentation is limited to one or a few areas of your body.
The natural course of the disease is difficult to predict. Sometimes the disease stops without treatment, but in most cases can eventually affect a large area.
Some studies have shown that the disease vitiligo also can develop when the human body accumulates a lot of hiking and toxic substances, which destroys melanocytes. Improper diet can also be a trigger for the loss of pigment in the skin and the formation of vitiligo. The most important thing is to adjust your diet so as to control the daily intake of salt, coffee and alcohol. On the other hand, if you already have white spots on the skin, it is advisable to consume foods rich in vitamin B12 and B9 (folic acid) because 80 percent of people who suffer from vitiligo have deficient in these vitamins in the body.
Treatment of vitiligo is not always necessary, in some cases, skin color returns to normal without treatment. Therapy for vitiligo, at least for now is not satisfactory, and its success depends on the localization and duration of the disease. In the early stages there is a better therapeutic response, and later the effect of therapy is reduced or absent. As the most effective therapeutic method which have proved till now is phototherapy, with more than 50 percent successful treatment response, particularly for minor changes.
The treatment of vitiligo with laser, which restores lost pigment (lasts a few weeks, 2-3 times a week), gives a lot of good results, but they are unfortunately only temporary, 50 percent of people again lost pigment after no more than one year and in some cases laser terapy doesn’t help at all.
Corticosteroid creams and synthetic preparations are also used among other treatments.
Modern surgical therapy gives a lot of hope to people who have focal, stable vitiligo. There are two techniques that are used for this: mini-transplants pigmented skin to vitiligo plates that were previously handled with Er YAG laser, or pre-formed suction blister, but this is a classic transplant superficial layer of the skin.