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Are you worried about catching vitiligo from someone with the disease? Or are you looking for information on how to treat a loved one with vitiligo but concerned about your own risk of developing the condition if you provide care or get too close? Perhaps you’re wondering what your child’s chances are of inheriting this skin condition.
What is Vitiligo?
Vitiligo is a long-term autoimmune disorder that causes depigmentation in patches all over the body. The loss of pigment, also known as hyperpigmentation, usually begins between 10 and 30 and continues into adulthood. It affects people worldwide regardless of ethnicity or gender — although research shows it may affect slightly more women than men. It’s estimated that about one to two percent of the world’s population has some form of vitiligo.
Vitiligo is not dangerous or contagious. It does have a genuine impact on the everyday lives of afflicted individuals, however, who may feel embarrassed by the appearance of their skin and avoid social interactions. The emotional burden can be so heavy that many people develop anxiety disorders and depression.
What Causes Vitiligo?
Tare several hypotheses. One hypothesis suggests that when melanocytes — pigment-producing cells in the skin — die off, they release natural killer cells which attack healthy nearby melanocytes and cause them to die as well, resulting in patches of lighter pigmentation. Researchers think this happens because the immune system mistakes melanin for a foreign threat and tries to eliminate it.
Another hypothesis is that melanocytes destroy themselves due to increased stress hormones (which inhibit pigment production) or ultraviolet radiation from sunlight.
There’s also evidence that autoimmunity plays a role. Autoimmune diseases happen when your body’s immune system, which generally protects you from invaders such as viruses and bacteria, mistakenly attacks healthy cells in your own body. In vitiligo, the immune system seems to attack parts of the skin where melanocytes are concentrated, breaking down their ability to produce pigment. It could be triggered by some environmental factor or infectious disease, particularly one that triggers an autoimmune response, but this hasn’t been proven.
Inheritance and Risk Factors
Vitiligo is not a genetic condition, so it’s not passed down from family to children and grandchildren. However, because genes play a role in determining who gets the disease, there are some known risk factors. If you have an immediate family member with vitiligo or another autoimmune disorder, you have a slightly greater risk of developing it yourself. One recent study of identical twins showed that if one twin had vitiligo, the other had about 18 times greater chance of developing the condition than members of the general population. Researchers believe this may be because genes predispose people to autoimmunity, and both twins would inherit those same predisposing genes.
Is Vitiligo contagious?
Vitiligo is not contagious. You can’t catch it from someone or pass it on to another person. Suppose you have a genetic predisposition and some triggers, such as a skin injury. In that case, you may develop vitiligo, but other people will not be affected simply by being in contact with you.
If someone in your family has vitiligo, caring for them can be emotionally challenging because society’s limited understanding of the disease. But there are ways to protect yourself against adverse emotional effects and reduce stress during caregiving. For example, trying to build self-esteem unrelated to appearance may help combat feelings of low self-worth that come with having this condition. And learning how to handle stressful social situations caused by vitiligo can help lower your risk of depression and anxiety, so don’t be afraid to reach out for support.
Although vitiligo isn’t contagious or dangerous, it can substantially affect day-to-day life by limiting an individual’s ability to enjoy the sun and participate in outdoor activities during peak daylight hours. Some sufferers also report social interactions that stem from fear of rejection because of their skin condition. Because these feelings are often connected to concerns about appearance and body image, counselling may be helpful for some people with vitiligo.
What are the symptoms of Vitiligo?
- Vitiligo can usually easily be diagnosed by a doctor. Sometimes the diagnosis is not so easy because vitiligo occurs most often on areas of skin with slight natural pigmentation (pale skin, eyelids, and lips). In these cases, it’s necessary to do a skin biopsy. This involves taking out a small piece of skin in the suspected affected area for laboratory examination under a microscope.
- The depigmented patches associated with vitiligo can have sharply defined or rough edges that may enlarge over time but typically remain stable for many years. At first, they may be slightly lighter than the surrounding standard skin color, then gradually become milky white before turning into pink-beige, gray-brown, or yellowish spots.
- Lesions begin to appear when melanocytes in the skin are destroyed, so usually dark areas of skin lose their color while normal skin around them remains pigmented. The face and hands tend to be most frequently affected. Still, vitiligo can affect any part of the body, including exposed areas such as the lips, gums, inner legs of the mouth or throat (mucous membranes), genitals, navel, inner thighs, and armpits. Only a few small spots occur; others may have extensive loss of pigmentation over large portions of their bodies. Vitiligo is entirely harmless in that it doesn’t spread from one area to another or does not cause any medical problems whatsoever.
- Vitiligo is chronic, which means it lasts a long time – sometimes your whole life. Because of this, skin color will change throughout one’s lifetime. It may progress, stay the same or partially improve. In some cases, vitiligo completely clears up, and the person regains normal pigmentation in that area. But most people with significant vitiligo never regain their normal skin pigmentation.
How to Cope with Vitiligo?
Treatments can be divided into these categories:
1) Camouflaging: using cosmetics to hide the white patches
2) Repigmentation treatments
3) Immune therapies
4) Research on skin melanocytes-based therapies
5) Psychological support
6). Diagnosis and treatment for secondary complications
7). Education of the patient and their family
8). Vitiligo: Genetic, Autoimmune, or allergic.
- There are many ways to cover up vitiligo. Still, the most effective is a combination of makeup foundation for fair-skinned people (available at stores) and tattooing dark pigments over the white spots 2) Vitiligo Treatments: Several methods are available that may or may not work depending on your skin type, age of onset and area affected, etc. 3) Treatment Approaches: Several different approaches are being used today to treat this condition including topical creams applied daily, phototherapy treatments such as exposure to ultraviolet light, or medications that suppress the immune system.
- Repigmentation Treatment:
- There are many options for repigmentation, including autologous keratinocyte grafts, cultured melanocytes, and melanocyte transplantation. It is a long and expensive treatment which may even cost up to Rs. 10 Lakhs for both hands and feet (for one-time treatment)
- Immune therapies:
- The first immune intervention was the use of topical calcineurin inhibitors like tacrolimus and piroxicam. These agents successfully re-pigmented small depigmented spots in many patients, but they could not re-pigment larger areas of vitiligo.
- Skin Melanocyte Based Therapy Research:
- Regeneration of Melanocytes through stem cell research and its transplantation in vitiliginous skin is becoming an active area of intense research.
- Psychological Support:
- People with vitiligo experience a high degree of psychological distress, which could be reduced if they felt more accepted by society. To help reduce the effects of this psychological stress, provide psycho-educational support (i.e., information about the disease and its treatment) and discuss methods for coping more effectively with emotional issues. 3) Legal Assistance: Individuals dealing with the physical components of living with vitiligo may also struggle with social assumptions that can affect them in ways other than skin coloration alone. For example, when trying to stand out physically, you invariably come into closer contact at times with law enforcement, and you need to be prepared for this. As with many other skin diseases, individuals with vitiligo are often unfairly judged as potentially dangerous when walking the streets by others who do not know them or their condition.
- Diagnosis and treatment for secondary complications of vitiligo:
- People with vitiligo are more likely to have other autoimmune diseases such as thyroid disease, diabetes, and Addison’s disease. Since these conditions may require different treatments than vitiligo alone, diagnosing them early can help people better manage their health
- Enrichment of life:
- Vitiligo is a chronic disease that can cause significant changes in your life. Learning how best to cope and control while accepting what you cannot change will help you feel better about yourself. The onset of vitiligo can be devastating. It is essential for people suffering from this disorder to make every effort to feel good about themselves. A loss of pigment in the skin leads some individuals to experience isolation and despair, which can be addressed through counseling, education, and establishing community support groups with other individuals coping with vitiligo.
- Education of the patient and their family:
- Educating patients and their families is an essential part of self-management. The goal of education is to know what causes this condition, how it works on the body, methods for treatment and prevention, coping strategies for dealing with stress related to living with a chronic skin disorder like vitiligo.
What is the scope of vitiligo treatment?
Vitiligo treatment can include topical skin creams for repigmentation, phototherapy treatments to destroy remaining pigment cells in the skin, and transplanting healthy melanocytes into depigmented areas of the skin. Skin grafts onto vitiligo patches and transplanted autologous melanocyte suspensions may give excellent results with extensive involvement or smaller lesions that are not suitable for directly applying melanocytes.
What are the dos and don’ts for vitiligo patients?
Do 1) Wear sunscreen when outdoors. And remember that many medications cause photosensitivity, so be extra careful to protect yourself from the sun while being treated with these medications
2). Focus on your positive attributes instead of dwelling on skin color changes
3). Wearing brightly colored clothing can help some people feel more confident and comfortable, especially in social situations
4). Ask for support from family members and friends
5) Be optimistic and know that you can still lead an active, productive life despite vitiligo
Don’t: 1) Don’t stay all the time indoors before it gets dark. Try to go outside or at least open windows for some fresh air during the day.
2) Avoid stress if possible as this may worsen vitiligo symptoms.
3) Don’t try to hide your skin condition from the public. You can find support in the process of coming out.
4) Avoid tanning beds and other artificial sources of ultraviolet light.
5) Don’t buy into myths about vitiligo, such as it being contagious or that it is a form of leprosy.
Can homeopathy help in treating vitiligo?
- Homeopathy is a popular complementary medical approach in India with a high prevalence rate of the disease.
- Homeopathic treatment for vitiligo aims to improve immunity, boost the melanin pigment in the skin, and protect the body from further damage.
- Homeopathic treatment for vitiligo stimulates the body’s immune system to help the melanocytes heal and proliferate. Homeopaths treat the disease with remedies designed to boost your immune system and enable the body to heal itself.
- Homeopathic treatment for vitiligo gives long-lasting treatment and control. Since the therapy aims to boost your immune system, it also provides relief from any autoimmune disorders that may be causing vitiligo in the first place.
- Homeopathic treatment for vitiligo has a holistic approach that treats the body as a whole and not just the skin changes.
- Homeopathic treatment for vitiligo will help treat any of your associated autoimmune disorders that may be causing vitiligo in different parts of your body.
As per the latest research, it has been found out that homeopathy is an effective model for treating the loss of pigment cells in the skin. We shall suggest you book an appointment through OHO Homeopathy for more information.