Vtiligo Articles

Discoloration of Skin

De-pigmentation or discoloration of skin can be caused by many different local and systemic conditions. Some conditions related to skin pigment are temporary while others are chronic or permanent. If you have any type of discoloration on your skin talk to your doctor to properly diagnose what you have so you can begin treatment as soon as possible.

Bruising

A bruise also known as contusion on your skin causes it to break the capillaries in the affected area and release red blood cells. The bruising will cause some discoloration but this generally heals and the pigment returns to normal. In some cases the discoloration of skin will not return to normal and some Vitiligo patients recall a bruised or injured area as the initial spot of the discoloration.

Dermatitis

Dermatitis is an inflammation of the skin resulting from an allergic reaction or contact with an irritating product. The symptoms of dermatitis depend on the type of product a person comes in contact with. It can be mild or severe resulting in temporary or permanent discoloration of skin on the affected area. The condition can be treated by avoiding the product responsible for the dermatitis. Any discoloration as the result of dermatitis usually goes away when the skin heals. If the discoloration persists for a long time after your skin talk to your doctor.

Infections

When you have an infection bacteria, parasites and viruses start multiplying in your body. Depending on the type of organism the damage can result in pigment loss on your skin. These type of infections can be eliminated with the right antibiotic, antiviral or antifungal medication.

Non-Vitiligo De-pigmentation

Vitiligo is not the only condition that causes loss of pigment. If you experience any form of discoloration of skin don’t assume what it is until it is properly diagnosed. Some of the conditions are:

  • Tinea Versicolor
  • PityriasisVersicolor
  • Piebaldism
  • Discoid Lupus Erythematosus
  • Nevus Depigmentosus
  • Post-inflammatory Hypopigmentation
  • Halo Nevus
  • Post-burn Leucoderma
  • Contact or Chemical Leucoderma
  • Solar Elastosis
  • Laser Leucoderma

The appearance of any discoloration of skin can be unsettling but getting the right diagnosis will help you understand what is causing it and find a treatment option.

White Patches

De-pigmentation or discoloration of skin can be caused by many different local and systemic conditions. Some conditions related to skin pigment are temporary while others are chronic or permanent. If you have any type of discoloration on your skin talk to your doctor to properly diagnose what you have so you can begin treatment as soon as possible.

Causes

The white patches on your skin can be triggered by a variety of factors. Some of these factors are easy to treat and other can be difficult or not treatable at all. Some of the causes include:

Infections – a yeast infection on the skin called tinea versicolor can cause white patches to appear. It can be treated with an antifungal medication and pigment gradually returns on the affected area.
Allergies – certain allergies to foods, lotions, creams, household products or different chemicals can cause temporary discolorations on some parts of the body. When the product responsible for the discoloration is removed pigment generally returns.
Skin diseases – the most common skin de-pigmentation disease is Vitiligo but other condition can be responsible for creating local or total loss of pigment in the skin. They include piebaldism, halo nevus, solar elastosis, albinism and discoid lupus erythematosus.

The Skin

The skin is made up of the epidermis and dermis. The product responsible for making the color is called melanin which is produced by melanocytes. The purpose of this pigment is to protect you from the harmful rays of the sun. Any disruption in this process will create some type of discoloration on your skin leaving you vulnerable to the sun. So it is very important to find the cause of any white patches on your skin so you can protect it from any harm

Causes of Vitiligo 

The question most Vitiligo patients ask is, are there any causes for Vitiligo? This of course depends on who you ask. Most experts agree that they really don’t know what causes Vitiligo, but lesser experts will give you a variety of reasons as to what causes Vitiligo. That is why you must be careful when you’re trying to find out information about Vitiligo. While the Internet is an incredible resource for information, it is also a place where you can easily be misinformed.

Scientific Theories

Scientists attribute Vitiligo to three possible theories. These theories are based on research and evidence gathered from many Vitiligo patients. It should also be mentioned they are not the only possible causes for Vitiligo and because doctors do not know what causes Vitiligo there are many other factors they are not aware of:

Autoimmune Disorders- according to the autoimmune hypothesis your immune system starts attacking the melanocytes responsible for producing melanin. When the melanocytes are depleted, you will start losing pigment in your skin. Autoimmune disorders are a mystery triggered by many different factors.
Neural – the neural theory believes chemicals such as norepinephrine can be responsible for destroying melanocytes. This is because norepinephrine is toxic to melanocytes. This toxicity prevents the production of melanin thus eliminating pigmentation from your skin.
Autocytoxic -during an Autocytoxic reaction researchers believe the process of melanin biosynthesis produces a toxic substance resulting in damage. When the damage takes place melanin production is reduced or eliminated completely resulting in pigment loss.

Genetic research is also providing vital information about many other different possible causes of Vitiligo.

Heredity

Heredity has also been considered as one of the causes for Vitiligo but the evidence supporting this theory is not conclusive. The cases of Vitiligo happen to be random and children of patients who have been diagnosed with Vitiligo seemed to have only a slightly higher risk of acquiring the disease as children of people who do not have Vitiligo.

Nutritional Deficiency

The reason nutritional deficiency is considered as one of the possible causes of Vitiligo is because these patients experience deficiencies in certain vitamins and minerals. Having a deficiency in these nutrients however does not mean it can cause Vitiligo. What is important to note is if you have Vitiligo you should consider supplementing your diet with these vitamins and minerals.

See our Nutrition page.

Stress and Trauma

Some Vitiligo patients experienced their first outbreak during a stressful or traumatic event. During one of these experiences it is possible for your body to react with an autoimmune response. While some patients experience an autoimmune response to a traumatic event the vast majority of people are able to cope without any autoimmune disorder.

As a Vitiligo patient it would be almost impossible for you to find out what caused your condition. What you can do is get the right information so you will be able to manage and eventually overcome your Vitiligo. Doctors know there are many different causes for Vitiligo and each possible new theory will eventually lead them to finding Cures for Vitiligo.

Cures for Vitiligo

Vitiligo is an autoimmune disorder which results in loss of pigmentation on the skin. Cures for Vitiligo are not currently available, but there are many patients around the world who have overcome their condition using unconventional and scientific methods to repigment their skin and stop the spread of the disease. Because the psychological impact of Vitiligo is so traumatic many patients fall victim to companies that take advantage of this vulnerability. Before you consider trying any product that claims to cure your Vitiligo make sure the product will not harm your overall health and deteriorate your condition.

Defining Cure

Every Vitiligo patient has a different definition of what they consider a cure. The definitions vary because everyone experiences different levels of de-pigmentation and most patients know there is not a standard cure that will get rid of Vitiligo. For this reason Vitiligo patients have different interpretations as to what they consider a cure for themselves. It is important to understand how the disease progresses with you so you will be able to find your own definition of what a cure is for Vitiligo.

Stopping the Spread of Vitiligo

For most Vitiligo patients stopping the spread of new breakouts in different parts of the body is considered a cure. No one really knows how and why of Vitiligo stops or continues to spread, but different forms of therapy including light or sun, topical and systemic drugs as well as nutrition therapy has resulted in stopping the spread of Vitiligo. Stopping the spread does not mean you cure yourself of Vitiligo, it just means it is not spreading into other parts of your body. Once you have stabilized your Vitiligo you can take measures to introduce pigment to those areas that don’t have any pigment.

Living with Vitiligo

The most difficult part about Vitiligo is living with the psychological effects of having the disease. While the disease doesn’t cause any physical pain the psychological impact can be hard to deal with. The impact is exacerbated by the many attempts patients make to find cures for Vitiligo. The effect of hoping for a cure and being disappointed when it doesn’t work can take a great toll on the psyche of someone that has been diagnosed with Vitiligo. Even though psychological therapy will not cure your Vitiligo the tools it provides can be seen as a cure for many of the patients who have Vitiligo.

Although Vitiligo is still a mystery the fact remains that patients have healed from Vitiligo and the possibility is there. Through research and dedication the chances of healing are greatly increased.

About Vitiligo

The information available about Vitiligo can be confusing sometimes because there are many individuals and companies who have questionable motives when they provide the information. The goal of this article is to give you a primer about Vitiligo and to encourage you to choose your information wisely. Once you have accurate information you will be able to make informed decisions on the form of therapy suited for your case of Vitiligo.

What is Vitiligo?

Vitiligo is a condition where patches with depigmentation appear on your skin, creating white spots on different parts of your body. It is classified as an autoimmune disorder because your immune system is destroying your ability to create the necessary pigment for your skin. Melanin is the product responsible for coloring or pigmenting your skin. Melanin is produced by melanocytes and in the case of Vitiligo your melanocytes are attacked by your immune system or they are simply depleted, stopping the production of melanin thus creating patches of depigmentation. Even though there is not a cure for Vitiligo there many different forms of therapy which return pigment to the affected areas. It should also be mentioned some patients recover fully without any treatment.

Approximately 70 million people around the world have Vitiligo. The condition is more noticeable on people with darker skin but it affects every race and gender equally. Although it is mostly diagnosed at a younger age it can strike anyone. The symptoms can appear on any part of the body and the progression of the disease can not be accurately predicted.

Cause of Vitiligo

Currently there are many theories as to what causes Vitiligo but they are only theories, what they do know is the melanocytes stop producing melanin. According to some hypothesis melanocytes production is stopped for the following reasons:

  • Autoimmune
  • Neural
  • Autocytoxic or self destruct

Other possible causes include nutritional deficiencies, trauma and toxic products. As mentioned previously these are all theories and until the exact cause is discovered the best thing you can do is keep up with the latest discoveries from reliable sources.

Types of Vitiligo

Doctors don’t fully understand the disease but they have classified different types of the condition. Based on the diagnosis your doctor can give you more information about Vitiligoand recommend a form of therapy. The types of Vitiligo are:

Generalized Vitiligo – the symptoms appear on different parts of the body and they can be symmetrical
Segmental Vitiligo – the symptoms usually appear on one side of the body and they are not always symmetrical
Focal Vitiligo – the symptoms only appear on a single or small number parts of your body
Vitiligo Universalis – this type of Vitiligo covers a large portion of the body resulting in total or almost total loss of pigment

The unpredictable and evolving nature of Vitiligo makes it difficult to give an accurate prognosis. Attacking each new outbreak with the best available therapy will help you re-pigment your skin.

Treatment

Just because there is not a complete cure for Vitiligo does not mean you can’t treat the symptoms caused by the disease. One of the reasons you should find out as much as you can about Vitiligo is to see what your options are when it comes to therapies. Before you begin any therapy it is important to find out if your Vitiligo is stable to establish the type of therapy you will receive. You have many options and not all of them work for everyone. The therapies include:

  • Oral medications
  • Topical medications
  • Photo or light therapies

PUVA – Psoralen with artificial Ultra Violet light A
PUVASol – Psoaralen with sunlight
NB-UVB Narrowband Ultra Violet B
Excimer laser

Surgery

  • Skin grafting
  • Melanocyte and Keranocyte transplantation
  • Micropigmentation

Camouflage
Depigmentation

Talk to your doctor about your goal when choosing a method of therapy and find out if they are realistic or achievable before you begin.

Impact of Vitiligo

The greatest impact Vitiligo has is the psychological issues the patients have to deal with. Unlike other conditions Vitiligo does not cause any physical pain but the pain it causes can be just as or more traumatic. Having your appearance change in such a dramatic fashion can be very difficult to deal with and the psychological aspect of Vitiligo should be a very key component of any therapy for the long term overall health of the patient.

The internet has made it possible to find out a lot of information about Vitiligo. If you find new information, therapy or medication always talk to your doctor to determine if it is true and whether it is worth trying to improve your condition.

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