DR. C’S JOURNAL: VITILIGO

Vitiligo is the loss of skin color in patches. Most often it is widespread. It tends to occur on the hands, or around the mouth, and can start where there are irritations or injuries to the skin, such as with tattoos. This generalized Vitteligo begins in middle age, but a more localized, or segmental Vitelligo can start earlier, and affect one area or side of the body.

Well-tanned skin, and skin with a darker color make the vitiligo stand out more prominently and give more trouble.

When I was a kid, I had a sort of reverse vitiligo, namely freckles. With freckles, the pigment gathers into small spotty areas, and leaves the rest of the skin without sunburn protection. I can attest to the fact that ANY kind of skin difference will lead to social problems; the main suffering  with vitiligo is social.

Vitiligo is considered an autoimmune condition, and carries with it an increased likelihood of other autoimmune conditions, primarily thyroid and other endocrine.

Mimicking vitelligo, skin pigment can also disappear in areas of irritation or surface infection, such as in tinea versacolor and pityriasis alba. There is often a “halo” around a pigmented negus.

There are various treatments which aim to lighten up the surrounding skin area, or Increase pigmentation of the affected area. Such techniques use ultraviolet light, in combination with various various creams and medicines. Even surgery is sometimes used, so great it is the suffering of affected individuals.

Please refer to the accompanying article for more information.

—Dr. C.

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