Vitiligo also called as 'leucoderma' is an autoimmune disorder wherein the immune system of the body attacks the healthy cells and, in turn, starts affecting the body. The condition is characterised by white patches on the skin that develops as a result of melanocytes within the skin. These are the cells that are responsible for the skin pigment melanin that gives colour to your skin. The white patches appear when the melanocytes die off. The condition is called vitiligo, or leucoderma, or white leprosy.
Usually pale and white spots, patchy areas of depigmented skin appear. This is generally found in those body parts that face sun exposure. It usually occurs on hands, wrist and facial areas. If a white pigmentation already exists on your skin & you get hurt all of a sudden thereby developing similar white patches on the skin, then you should immediately visit a doctor.
Remember that the patches are painless and it does not even cause any sensation of itching. But, with the sun's exposure, it may cause irritation and even sometimes a burning sensation.
Myths VS Facts
Myth 1: Vitiligo is an outcome of the wrong combination of foods, for instance, milk consumption shortly after eating fish can bring on the disorder.
Fact: Factually, vitiligo has no link with the diet. It is irrational to deprive patients of the sour foods like lemon, curd, tomatoes, and pickles in the hope of declining the possibility of the disease.
Myth 2: People with vitiligo disorder are lesser in their mental or physical proficiencies.
Fact: Vitiligo is limited entirely to the skin. It has no relationship with or does not influence or affect any other organs.
Myth 3: Vitiligo is a kind of leprosy and is communicable.
Fact: Vitiligo is in no way linked to leprosy. It is not infectious or contagious and, hence, cannot pass on from one person to another.
Myth 4: Vitiligo is connected to serious skin diseases, such as skin cancer and albinism.
Fact: There are transparent dissimilarities among each of these syndromes, not any of them are linked to Vitiligo. Myth 5: Vitiligo is untreatable
Fact: Medications like steroids, Ultraviolet A, immunomodulator drugs and the newer narrowband Ultraviolet B are accessible, along with several surgical options.
There is no doubt that the treatment is tough and slow and not all patients respond equally. However, it is important to treat the stigma than the syndrome.
- Suction Blister Epidermal Grafting: With the use of vacuum, the skin is segregated into the ones with the white patches and the other normal skin. The skin with the colour pigment is placed over the white patches.
- Melanocyte Epidermal Cell Suspensions: Here, the white patches are covered without any cut. The skin pigment from the normal part of the body is taken out and converted into a liquid form and inserted into the white skin area.
- Melanocyte Culture: After conducting skin biopsy, a small part of the skin is cultured in a specialised lab, which is then grafted on the affected area.
- Platelet Rich Plasma: After extracting plasma from the blood, it is treated and injected into the area with white patches. Plasma has stem cells that help in developing new cells in the body. This technique is natural and does not have any side-effects.
The author is Dermatologist & Vitiligo Expert, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital