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Vitiligo is not a skin condition but rather a troublesome and chronic disease of the immune system. It’s not known to be fatal. But it can cause physiological and psychological stress leading to disturbances of moods and behaviour in an otherwise healthy individual. Most of the people who have vitiligo are distressed that their skin is slowly losing its pigment. The disease also causes stress or anxiety to family members and friends, who are sensitive to the appearance of the skin.
As per dermatologists in India, vitiligo is caused by genetics (hereditary factors) associated with environmental factors like psychological stress. Some people develop vitiligo after certain types of emotional trauma such as grief, divorce, loss of job, etc. It has been seen that people under severe stress may get vitiligo even during their early teens (childhood).
What triggers Vitiligo:
- Psychological stress:
Academic stress is one of the most important causes of vitiligo in teenagers. Some cases are linked to certain types of emotional trauma like grief, divorce, loss of job.
- Physical stress:
Some immune-mediated diseases may also develop in people who have vitiligo due to physical injury or chronic infections. Examples are thyroid disease, diabetes, etc.
- Nutritional deficiencies:
The deficiency of some essential nutrients may play a role in triggering vitiligo and developing these diseases. This is called ‘iatrogenic’ or secondary cause for vitiligo. For example, lack of specific vitamins and minerals may affect the immune system resulting in vitiligo.
Some other triggering factors include:
- a) Exposure to certain chemicals, especially ethylene dibromide (used as an agricultural fumigant), phenylmercuric nitrate (used as a preservative in eye drops), and benzene (found in shoe polish).
- b) Exposure to industrial fumes, chemicals, and pesticides.
- c) Chemotherapy drugs for cancer treatment can cause vitiligo.
- d) Sunlight exposure has been found to trigger vitiligo in some people while others are affected by sunburns or certain types of skin surgery.
- e) Other factors like tobacco and coffee intake, stress at work or home, an endocrine disorder like diabetes or thyroid disease can also trigger vitiligo.
- f) Nutritional deficiencies of specific vitamins and minerals such as Vitamins C, B1 (thiamine), B12 (cobalamin), E, and K have been implicated as a cause for vitiligo.
- g) Chronic kidney diseases and AIDS can also be associated with vitiligo as the immune-modulatory effect of the disease.
- h) Infections: Infectious agents like viruses, bacteria, and fungi have been found to trigger vitiligo in some people. These infectious agents may enter the body through the nose, mouth, or other openings in the skin. It is not clear if these agents are the direct cause of vitiligo. But there is certainly an association between specific infectious agents and vitiligo.
- i) Occupational exposures: Mercury, manganese compounds, nickel, chromates, organic solvents, pyrrolizidine alkaloids, pesticides, isocyanates, and tranquilizers can also lead to vitiligo.
How stress may cause Vitiligo:
Stress means a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances. A person experiences stress when he has to undertake tasks and responsibilities for which he is ill-prepared.
A lot of physical and emotional energy goes into coping with stress. Stress affects the body in many ways – it may cause physiological changes such as an increase in blood pressure, heart rate, blood sugar levels, or muscle tension.
It can also lead to psychological changes like disturbance of sleep pattern, irritability, anxiety, depression, etc. Studies have shown that stress may lead to vitiligo in some people by suppressing the immune system.
Long-term stress reduces the natural resistance of the body, making it more vulnerable to diseases like vitiligo. So when a person under pressure is exposed to factors that can trigger or worsen vitiligo (like sun exposure), he may develop vitiligo.
“Stress-Induced Vitiligo” may be classified into two types:
1) Chronic Stress-Induced Vitiligo: This type of vitiligo occurs due to repeated stressful events over an extended period (at least six months)
2) Acute Stress-Induced Vitiligo: This type of vitiligo is a result of a single very stressful or traumatic experience.
What are the symptoms?
Vitiligo is most often noticed as one or more white patches on the skin.
Patches of vitiligo may appear in different parts of the body, such as:
1) On the hands and feet: Some people develop white patches on their palms and soles.
2) Around body openings (genital, eyes, nostrils): The edges of hair whorls can also turn white in some cases.
3) Around the mouth: White patches around the lips is very common.
4) Other sites where vitiligo patches may appear include under the nails, mouth, esophagus, mucous membranes lining body openings (vagina, anus), skin folds, etc.
Since different people may be affected by vitiligo in very different patterns, it is essential to consult a doctor to examine you properly and help.
Even though vitiligo is not a life-threatening disease, it may cause psychological effects such as:
1) Depression and anxiety leading to behavioral changes;
2) Loss of self-esteem;
3) Social withdrawal; and
4) Loss of sexual interest. All these effects can be minimized with proper medical care and knowledge about the disease.
Psychological stress needs to be tackled before it negatively affects the person’s life.
How to deal with stress:
- Go for a walk:
Exercise helps reduce stress. It increases the flow of oxygen to the brain, allowing you to think more clearly and help lower your anxiety level.
- Read a book:
When stressed, try reading an exciting book or listening to audiobooks on tapes while driving in your car. This will distract you from your problems for a while and give you a chance to relax.
- Sit in the sun:
Sunlight and fresh air help us relax and give us a chance to think about pleasant things in our lives instead of concentrating on what is upsetting us.
- Eat Healthy Foods:
When we are under stress, we often eat salty or sugary snacks, which improve our condition. Instead, they worsen it because too much salt can increase blood pressure, and sugar causes fluctuations in energy levels, making you more tired than before you ate anything.
- Drink plenty of liquids:
During stressful periods we often forget to drink water regularly; make sure that you drink at least three liters (12 glasses) of liquid each day when under and avoid drinks like coffee and beer, which contain caffeine and alcohol.
- Take a warm bath:
A long, hot soak in the tub has a soothing, calming effect on the mind and body. The warmth of the water relaxes tense muscles while the rhythmic sound of water trickling from a faucet or showerhead helps to quiet racing thoughts.
- Get Plenty of Sleep:
Many people think that staying up late will help them catch up if they don’t get enough sleep. It is not valid. If you are tired, then your body needs rest to be able to function right. Not getting enough sleep can further complicate stress-causing problems like lack of concentration and depression.
- Relax with a Hobby:
There are many ways to relax, including listening to music, meditating, or taking a hot bath. Whatever helps you feel relaxed is the best hobby for you but make sure it’s not something very stressful like cycling because that would only stress you out later on after you’re done.
- Tackle a difficult task:
When we are stressed, we often tend to procrastinate and avoid working on something unpleasant or challenging. It worsens the problem because you have added pressure to get it done by a specific date. The best way to deal with this sort of stress is to attack the task head-on and get it over with as soon as possible before you add any other kinds of unnecessary stress.
- Express your feelings freely:
Sometimes talking about how you feel can help relieve some tension in your body and mind, especially if the person listening is supportive and willing to listen without judgment or criticism. It could be a friend or a counselor, but sharing your thoughts will help make them seem less overwhelming.
- Let it out in a journal/diary:
Keeping your feelings bottled up can cause more stress later on when you look back on what happened or worry about the future. Keeping a journal is not only good for relieving some stress, but it can also help you to remember things and improve your memory if done correctly.
- Think of happy moments:
When we are stressed, we often dwell on all the terrible moments and experiences we’ve ever had and forget all the good ones. It makes us feel even worse than before because it has been proven that positive thoughts have a much more significant impact than negative ones when they come from similar sources. Do not think about the bad parts of your day; think of all the good things that happened and how they can improve your future.
- Do something nice for yourself:
When you are stressed, it is straightforward to forget about yourself and focus too much on others or what needs to be done next. Make sure that you take some time out of every day to do something which makes YOU happy, even if it’s as simple as taking a bath or watching your favorite TV show.
- Connect with nature:
Some scientists found that the human mind has an easier time dealing with stress when surrounded by nature because it reminds us of simpler times when we didn’t have so many problems. It allows our body to release natural chemicals such as serotonin to relax us. So take a walk, sit outside or even perform some gardening.
- Control your breathing:
When you are stressed out, your breathing becomes shallow or quick depending on what type of situation is happening to you, so if possible, try to slow down your breathing by taking deep breaths from the bottom of your stomach until your lungs are full before slowly releasing all the air until there isn’t any left. It will help calm the mind and keep the heart rate steady, making it easier to relax.
- Keep an eye out for early warning signs:
If you learn how to recognize the symptoms of stress before they happen, then you can take action and try one of the methods listed above to deal with it before it gets too overwhelming. If your mind is telling you that something is wrong or if your body feels tense or light-headed, then there’s no point in trying to ignore what’s happening because it will just get worse later on if left alone.
When to visit a doctor for stress:
If you have been experiencing the symptoms of stress for over a month and following the steps listed above hasn’t improved your situation at all. It is best to consult with a doctor because they will find out if there is something else wrong such as anxiety or depression, which might require medication or other treatment options.
Choose homeopathic treatment for stress and vitiligo:
Homeopathic treatment helps in dealing with vitiligo and stress and can also help manage psoriasis and hypothyroidism.
Homeopathy is a natural medical system that has been used for over 200 years.
This safe and gentle natural approach to healing can be efficient for many of your health concerns. It is based on the principle ” like cures like. ” In other words, substances that cause susceptibility or susceptibility symptoms in a healthy person will cure similar symptoms in ill people.
Therefore, homeopathic remedies are prepared from natural substances such as plants, minerals, or animal sources using a special process called “potentiation.” The remedy acts gently to stimulate your body’s curative responses without side effects.
If you are going through stress and vitiligo, book an appointment through OHO Homeopathy and know how to deal with stress and vitiligo.