Dermatology
Vitiligo
​​Summary:
  • It occurs due to the death or cessation of the pigment cells that produce melanin.
  • Its symptoms and signs include the loss of skin color and the appearance of white spots in various areas of the body.
  • Vitiligo can affect any area of the skin, but the face, neck, hands and mouth are the most common.
  • Protecting the skin from the sun is one of the most important guidelines to follow.
  • The disease cannot be prevented, as treatment methods vary from one person to the other.

Overview:
A skin disease caused by the loss of natural skin color and the appearance of white spots. It can affect the skin or any part of the body, and may also affect the hair and inside the mouth, as the situation varies from person to person, where the impact and loss of color cannot be predicted. The disease is not contagious, affecting all skin types but may be more prominent in people with darker skin.

Names: Vitiligo, leprosy

Types of vitiligo:
  • Nonsegmental vitiligo: It is closely associated with autoimmune conditions where the immune system attacks the body's cells causing white spots throughout the body.
  • Segmental vitiligo: Limited to one side or one area of the body and usually begins at an early age.
  • Generalized vitiligo: includes all body parts

There is no way to determine whether vitiligo will spread or remain limited to one place.

Cause:
In the human body the hair and skin color is determined by melanin. Vitiligo occurs when the melanocytes that produce melanin die or stop working, which may be due to an immune system problem but the cause is still unclear.

Risk Factors:
  • Immune system disorders
  • Family history
  • Autoimmune disease (thyroid disease or alopecia areata)

Symptoms:
  • Its main sign is loss of skin tone, usually on areas exposed to sunlight (e.g. hands, feet, arms, face, lips). those also include:
  • Incomplete loss of skin tone and the appearance of white spots.
  • The appearance of a white color on the scalp, eyelashes, eyebrows or beard.
  • Loss of color in tissues (mucous membranes) inside the mouth and nose.
  • Change the color of the inner layer of the eyeball (retina).
  • Subcutaneous vascular discoloration into pink.

When to see a doctor?
When you notice the previous signs and symptoms.

Complications:
  • Sun burns
  • Eye problems (e.g. uveitis)
  • Hearing loss

Diagnosis:
  • Clinical examination
  • Family and medical history
  • Lab tests. Blood tests
  • Other tests: Taking a small sample (biopsy) of the affected skin

Treatment:
There are many options for treatment, and some may take a long time, so they should be discussed with your doctor, as the goal of most treatments is to restore the color of the lost skin.

Those include:
  • Topical medications on the skin for small areas (such as: Corticosteroids) as some of these drugs should not be used on the face due to possible side effects.
  • Phototherapy to restore the lost color of the skin: Works best on the face and may be less effective on the hands and feet.
  • Photovoltaic therapy and psoralen to restore skin color: It can be applied to the skin or taken in pills orally.
  • Surgery: This is only for adults where vitiligo has not changed (remained stable) for at least 6 months.

Prevention:
There is no way to prevent vitiligo, but awareness of signs is the most important element to address the problem.

Guidelines for patients suffering from vitiligo:
  • Protect your skin from the sun by wearing protective clothing and using sunscreen.
  • Avoid using tanning beds.
  • Reduce stress and tension and work towards psychological stability.
  • Avoid exposure to certain chemicals, for example at work.
  • Avoid using unlicensed creams and mixtures.
  • Do not experiment with treatments based on other people's experiences.

FAQs:
  • Is there any relationship between vitiligo and cancer?
    • No, vitiligo is not a type of cancer and does not lead to cancer.
  • Can a child with vitiligo be treated?
    • Yes, but some treatments are not suitable for children, so discuss the appropriate treatment with your doctor.
  • Is there a special diet for vitiligo?
    • There is no medical evidence for any diet link with vitiligo, so dietary changes are not recommended.
  • Is there a glutathione needle for color uniformity?
    • Yes, glutathione needles are for color uniformity but they are unsafe and unauthorized, as they have serious side effects (such as: Skin allergies) may cause disorders of thyroid function and other kidney function that may even lead to kidney failure, while doctors proved glutathione pills ineffective in the uniformity of skin color.

Myths & Truths:
  • There are some vitamins, amino acids and enzymes to restore skin color.
    • Truth: Most of them have not been studied, so there is no evidence of their effectiveness or their possible side effects.
  • Drinking milk after eating fish causes vitiligo.
    • Truth: This is incorrect.
  • There is a final treatment for vitiligo through stem cells.
    • Truth:  There is still no scientific evidence to prove this.

Clinical Education General Department
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Last Update : 26 April 2021 05:33 AM
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