“My skin doesn’t define me”. Said Winnie Harlow, an American fashion model who has vitiligo and has not shied away from speaking about it in public or making it to the cover pages of some glamorous fashion magazines.
Vitiligo is also known as leukoderma and is an autoimmune condition that causes the immune system to attack the healthy cells and it starts affecting body appearance. Vitiligo is defined by white patches on the skin that happens due to the loss of skin pigmentation (melanin). This condition can turn from moderate to worse affecting the skin on the scalp, face or the genitals even.
Symptoms of Vitiligo
There are no specific symptoms of vitiligo except it being white patches or spots on the skin. It often begins with a simple spot on the skin that is paler than the rest of the body color. With time, the skin starts getting paler till it becomes white completely. The first pale spot on the skin is noticed in the area that is usually exposed to the sun.
The patches have an irregular shape and the edges of the spot can have red undertones due to inflammation and itchiness. No other irritation or discomfort is experienced.
Treatment of vitiligo
Vitiligo is usually diagnosed by a doctor with a physical examination. There is no specific treatment of vitiligo though. Doctors usually prescribe anti-inflammatory ointments and cream s to control inflammation. There are some cases where the skin returns to its original color. But these creams and ointments are not always beneficial as it may increase cancer risk, leads to thinning of the skin and shows lines of discoloration.
Another beneficial treatment for vitiligo is photochemotherapy.
Myths and facts about vitiligo
There are many myths associated with vitiligo. Let’s substantiate the facts along so as to raise awareness and dispel the misunderstandings and myths.
Vitiligo affects the dark-skinned
Vitiligo can affect anyone irrespective of the age and race.
Skin disorders like skin cancer, albinism or leprosy are related to vitiligo
Vitiligo is a completely separate condition in itself and has no link to these skin diseases or other illness. It is an autoimmune skin disorder.
Vitiligo gets worse when you eat certain food combinations.
Vitiligo has no relation to food.
Vitiligo can be cured and reversed by taking supplements and oils.
There is no treatment or cure for vitiligo as such. Talk to your doctor if you want to know about effective therapies.
Vitiligo is contagious
It is a skin condition that is neither infectious nor contagious. You can shake hands or live under the same roof with someone affected by vitiligo and still not have the condition.
Don’t consider vitiligo as a social stigma. Raise awareness.