Vitiligo – is a non-contagious skin disease in which melanocytes are undergone pathological changes and are no longer able to produce melanin. Thus, the skin of a patient suffering from this disease is characterized by the presence of white spots. These spots are asymmetric, with dark contours, spread throughout the body or are limited to several areas. Vitiligo «prefers» the skin around the holes (eyes, anus, genitals), but can also occur on the hands, neck, face.
Vitiligo – is a fairly common disease that affects about 1% of the world's population, regardless of gender and age.
Reasons of Vitiligo
The disease belongs to the category of autoimmune disorders. Cells of the immune system attack melanocytes, changing their function. In the case of vitiligo, heredity plays a very important role. Stress and thyroid dysfunction exacerbate the disorder.
There are two most popular hypotheses about the possible causes of triggering vitiligo.
According to the oxidative stress hypothesis, vitiligo may be the result of an increase in the production of oxygen radicals associated with a genetic predisposition. According to another hypothesis, the excessive presence of hydrogen peroxide in the cells may be a provoking factor. (Patients with vitiligo have very high levels of superoxide dismutase, an antioxidant enzyme that produces hydrogen peroxide from the superoxide anion O2-). Associated diseases. Vitiligo is often manifested in combination with other diseases, usually of autoimmune origin. Among them, diabetes, Addison's disease, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, Graves disease, systemic lupus erythematosus, alopecia, etc. are worth mentioning.
Vitiligo occurs in three forms that differ in the location of the white spots: non-segmental (bilateral), segmental and mixed vitiligo.
Bilateral form is observed in 90% of patients suffering from vitiligo. White patches of skin are distributed symmetrically in both halves of the body. For example, if there is a spot on the right hand, then a similar spot will be on the left.
Segmental vitiligo is the least common form (about 5% of patients). The spots in this case are asymmetric and are present only on one half of the body. This form of the disease has a very early onset, the main category is infants. Over a short period (about two years) achromatic spots progress and then stabilize. This form should be distinguished from general vitiligo, because in this case stress is not an initiating cause.
. Mixed vitiligo is a form that is characterized by a segmental beginning, gradually developing in the direction of a non-segmented or bilateral form.
Symptoms of Vitiligo
Naturally, typical signs of vitiligo are represented by achromatic spots. As a rule, they do not cause any problems from a pathological point of view. However, itching may occur in some patients. This symptom is an alarm, because it indicates a likely worsening of the patient's condition.
As mentioned above, the disease is not contagious. Vitiligo-free skin lacking melanin is more sensitive to sunlight. as white spots cannot be protected by tanning. Patients are therefore more susceptible to sunburn.
In the light of what has been said, it can be considered that the damage caused by vitiligo is purely aesthetic in nature. The disease causes more psychological and emotional discomfort, distorting the subjective perception of one's own image and affecting the patient’s interpersonal relationships in a negative way.
Since vitiligo – is an autoimmune disease, it is very difficult to eradicate it completely. However, there are therapeutic measures that counteract typical clinical manifestations.
Perhaps, for example, the use of photosensitizing substances associated with outpatient UV irradiation (PUVA therapy). The purpose of this therapy is to activate the function of melanocytes.
Pharmacological therapy of vitiligo involves the use of local corticosteroids that stimulate repeated skin pigmentation, as well as immunosuppressant that can modulate the immune response.
An extremely important role in the treatment of vitiligo is played by psychotherapy, which allows the patient to restore a healthy self-esteem and lead a socially full life.
If you have problems and questions related to the health status of your skin, you can always seek advice and help from a dermatologist at the Bogoliuby Medical Center.