Vitiligo, seen in many people is a disease that causes loss of skin colour in patches. It generally starts on the hands, forearms, feet and face. 

It is said that globally, about 1% or so of the population has vitiligo.

A person who has vitiligo might witness smooth white areas (called macules if less than 5mm or patches if 5mm or larger) on their skin

With time, the macules or patches tend to grow larger and it can also affect the hair.

As per doctors, Vitiligo occurs as melanocytes, the skin cells that produce melanin responsible for the colour or pigmentation of the skin are destroyed by the body’s immune system.

The symptoms of Vitiligo:

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  • Patchy loss of skin colour, which usually first appears on the hands, face, and areas around body openings and the genitals
  • Premature whitening or greying of the hair on your scalp, eyelashes, eyebrows or beard
  • Loss of colour in the tissues that line the inside of the mouth and nose (mucous membranes)

Although Vitiligo can occur at any possible age, it usually is reported in a majority before the age of 30.

It is also not possible most of the time to predict the disease and its further progress but the patches stop forming without treatment sometimes. In most cases, pigment loss spreads and eventually involves most of the skin, however, the skin gets its colour back occassionally.

When to see a doctor

You need to see a doctor immediately if you notice your skin, hair or mucous membranes losing their colour. You also need to be prepared mentally as Vitiligo has no cure. 

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However, certain medications suggested or prescribed by a doctor may stop or slow the process and also return some colour to your skin.

Complications

People with vitiligo may be at increased risk of:

  • Social or psychological distress
  • Sunburn
  • Eye problems
  • Hearing loss

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