Vitiligo is an autoimmune medical condition whereby there is loss of skin pigmentation forming the white parches on the skin. It occurs when cells that form melanin fails to produce melanin which give dark pigmentation of the epidermis of the skin thus white parches occurs. It affects any part of the skin, age, sex etc. Mostly it affects people with black skin. The immune system attacks its own cells i.e. melanocytes which make pigmentation of the skin thus forming white patches. This condition appears not to have any serious medical condition although it can make the victim go through emotional difficulties and in some cases, it can lead to some immune disorders.
CAUSES OF VITILIGO
The exact cause of this condition is not well known, though there are many theories.
- This condition can be caused when the immune system starts attacking and destroying the cells that make pigmentation of the skin instead of destroying foreign cells and bacteria. The cells of melanocytes are destroyed thus no color pigmentation is made making the skin to have white parches. It is also thought that melanocytes can destroy themselves.
- Neurochemicals can also cause by releasing chemicals to the nerves ending in the skin thus destroying melanocyte skin cells thus formation of white parches occur. This condition can also be inherited. When member of the family have this condition there is a possibility of acquiring this disease through inheritance.
- When one of the parentshas pernicious anaemia, probability of having this condition is high to the off springs. Hereditary is a major factor which is considered to be one of the main causes of this condition.
- Skin cancer, cancer of lymphatic system and also auto-immune system can also cause.
- Stressful situation, exposing to certain chemicals, may also alter the melanin in the skin hence causing this condition.
- Emotional stress and sunburn are also considered to be factor that causes vitiligo.
- People with hyperthyroidism, adrenal cortical hormone insufficiency have higher chance of getting this condition.
- Vitiligo can also occur at the site of injury or wound on the skin which has already healed.
TREATMENT OF VITILIGO
The goal for treatment of vitiligo is to try to minimize the symptoms of this condition by involving various medical approaches including surgical procedures.
- Topical steroids can be used to treat this condition although it is very expensive. Treatment should start early.
- Use of psoralen compound (found in seeds of psoraleacrylifolia) and ultra violet light A can also be used either orally or applied topically to the de-pigmented area of the skin thus sensitizing the skin. It is a very effective method and cures permanently.
- Homeopathy treatment is also used to restore the normal functioning and also balance the pigmentation of the skin. Use of herbal products can also be used.
- Surgical therapy can also be used to whereby epidermal blister grafting is done but it should be the last option when all medical therapies have failed. Skin grafting is commonly used to treat small vitiligo parches. Skin is removed from the donor and then transplanted to the recipient de-pigmented area of the skin.
- Autologous melanocyte transplantation technique is the latest surgical procedures whereby melanocyte from the healthy area of the skin are removed and placed in the laboratory dish with special cell culture solution to grow melanocytes. When melanocytes multiply they are then transplanted to the area affected.
- Skin camouflage is another technique in which cream and lotions are applied to the affected skin but they don’t treat underlying cause but they protect the skin from sunburns. It mimics exact color of the skin thus showing normal skin.