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Vitiligo is one of the skin conditions that affect skin pigment. It is not contagious that it will spread to other parts of your body. Although there are various ways it could be caused, genetics and immune system disorders are the most popular ones. If you have vitiligo, it’s best, even if it started already, to avoid sun exposure because when exposed to UV rays or sunlight can make it worse than before or cause your condition spreads to other parts of your body. Most people don’t know this, but vitiligo does not affect only the pigmentation in the skin. Rather than that affects the hair follicles and eyebrows too!
What causes vitiligo?
1. Autoimmune disease- when your body attacks healthy cells by mistake or uncontrolled immune system due to genetics or acquired infections may develop vitiligo.
2. Genetic defect- defects in DNA genes inherited from parents may also affect the metabolic activities of pigment production, hampering its formation leading to gradual loss of color over time. This condition is scarce, though, but it leads to no cure yet, so if you have children with this disorder, it’s best to alert them of the symptoms and what they should do if it happens.
3. Sunlight- even though some people claim that sunlight is the culprit of spreading vitiligo, you can still enjoy your day trips under the sun as long as you use sunscreen lotion with at least SPF 30+ protection. This is advisable because UV rays or sunlight will make your condition worsen or spread to other body parts more quickly than ever before!
4. Stress- stress is one of the significant factors that contribute to vitiligo. It may cause you to lose your appetite, affecting your body’s ability to absorb vitamins and other nutrients essential for normal body functions, including pigment production, leading to color discoloration.
5. Consuming certain foods- if you consume foods like coffee, alcohol, or chocolate frequently, it can lead to depression because of caffeine content and affect skin pigmentation by preventing it from absorbing adequate nutrients needed for skin health.
How can vitiligo spread?
Gradually with time, vitiligo can spread. It is best to do a quick self-examination to check for any discoloured pigmentation in your body. Do not confuse vitiligo with average marks or liver spots, as they are different conditions! Although, the latter only occurs as we age. Vitiligo can spread to other parts of your body if you delay in taking treatment. If you have been diagnosed with vitiligo, it’s best to start treatments immediately to avoid worsening your condition. Risk factors for vitiligo are diabetes, stress, acquiring infections, and sun exposure. If you have any of those risk factors, it is best to take care of yourself and your diet. Avoid exposure to direct sunlight as much as possible because the UV rays will make your condition worsen.
What can Vitiligo do to you?
Vitiligo is not contagious. It is not easy for those with vitiligo to socialize as they quickly feel conscious about their appearance, which can make them develop a social anxiety disorder. There may be a risk of developing depression in some conditions due to how others look at you. Other things could happen if have it such as:
1. Skin discoloration- skin pigmentation loss occurs in patches or all over the body, causing a light and white complexion. Some people with vitiligo develop depressed skin tone due to lack of melanin production; they may be prone to infection due to a weakened immunity system, which leads to long-term effects including premature aging and even death!
2. Hair follicles affected- when vitiligo is in its early stages, hair follicles and eyebrows will also be influenced. Although, when it’s in its final stages, the hair follicles and eyebrows will disappear altogether!
3. Psychological effects- some people with this disorder may experience psychological trauma such as depression or feel abnormal, especially when exposed to other people because of their appearance. This triggers stress, leading to compulsive behaviour such as smoking, drinking caffeine beverages like coffee and chocolate that might aggravate the condition instead of curing it!
4. Other conditions- vitiligo does not only affect the skin, but it also affects other parts of the body such as hair, teeth, and gums. It can result in bony malformations that may lead to physical deformities caused by a lack of melanin production!
Vitiligo can affect your body in many ways than you know. It affects everyone differently because every person reacts differently depending on how they cope with their life experiences, including personal issues such as depression. Here are the causes of the spread of vitiligo:
1. Ultraviolet radiation from the sun- exposure to direct sunlight is a big no if you have vitiligo, but this is how it spreads. This disease can affect anyone exposed to ultraviolet rays from the sun, even for just once!
2. Scars from injuries- when skin gets injured, marks left on the skin due to injury will also produce white patches. It may occur anywhere on your body with stretch marks or scars created by cuts and burns.
3. Consuming some prescribed drugs- some prescribed medications have been noted to cause vitiligo in some people, especially those with autoimmune diseases such as thyroid gland, psoriasis, etc. The following list of prescription medications that have been linked with causing vitiligo are:
a. Protease inhibitors- this medication is often given to people diagnosed with HIV infection or AIDS. It decreases the viral load in the body, but it can also trigger vitiligo because of its side effects which may worsen your current condition!
b. Beta-blockers- these are used for hypertension treatment and prevention of cardiovascular events. These are prescribed for people who have had a heart attack before, but they can become one leading cause of why your vitiligo spreads quickly!
c. Steroids- these are used as anti-inflammatory drugs that reduce swelling caused by allergic reactions to unavoidable conditions like asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, etc., but using them excessively will only make your vitiligo spread quickly!
d. Mood stabilizers- these are used to control mood swings and drug-induced psychosis, but they can trigger vitamin B12 deficiency that causes your skin to lose its pigmentation. In the end, it will result in vitiligo!
e. Cancer medicines- when you’re undergoing chemotherapy for cancer treatment, your body’s reaction may cause vitiligo to develop on specific parts like the face or any other parts of the skin, depending on how response affects your skin cells. Aside from triggering the condition, some medications such as methotrexate may also cause white patches on your skin which is irreversible even when you stop taking this medication!
How to treat and prevent vitiligo from spreading?
Even though there is no definite cure for vitiligo, you can still try home remedies or seek treatments from your dermatologist. Treatments include:
1. Sunscreen lotion- the best thing you should do is apply sunscreen lotion with at least SPF 30+ protection on areas prone to Vitiligo. Apply it all over the body, including face and ears skin, because even if it’s cloudy outside, UV rays are present! Protect yourself always before any visit under the sun. It’s also advisable to spend time under artificial light instead of direct sunlight as much as possible because they emit tiny amounts of UVA and UVB rays but not enough to harm your skin seriously!
2. Avoid triggers- if there is something that triggers your vitiligo to spread, try not to expose yourself in the situation or around these people who provoke you! You can also ask for help from friends or family members for emotional support and distraction.
3. No smoking- stop smoking before it leads to more severe health conditions like cancer which may also cause vitiligo! If possible, quit right away, but if this is hard, try cutting down on cigarettes per day until you eventually smoke less than five sticks daily. This will be easier once you’ve established an exercise routine that helps your body cope with nicotine withdrawal symptoms faster because exercise will boost your energy levels better than nicotine does! Vitiligo caused by chemicals present in cigarette smoke is not reversible with treatment. You can only conceal the white patches on your skin, but they will come back after some time!
4. Antioxidants- Vitiligo is due to oxidative damage, which means your body lacks the antioxidants needed for detoxification of harmful chemicals in your body! To keep them at optimum levels, you need to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants like Vitamin A (beta carotene), C, E & Selenium. This will help prevent further breakage of pigmentation cells because they enhance immune system functions, improve tissue repair and protect against ultraviolet radiation exposure by neutralizing free radicals present in the environment!!
5. Risk reduction- If you have vitiligo, or even if you don’t, it’s still good to take all necessary precautions when spending time under the sun. Wear protective clothing like hats and sunglasses, especially on the face, because even leaving your skin exposed for only 5 minutes is enough to cause damage! So, protect yourself at all times!
6. Proper stress control- Keeping stress at bay will help you maintain better health that prevents vitiligo from spreading! Take some time out of the busy schedule to spend with friends or family who understand what you’re going through, meet new people who have common interests, learn a new hobby that will keep your mind off things that bother you, etc., anything that can distract your mind away from negative thoughts can help stop vitiligo before it spreads too much!
7. Avoid Medications- corticosteroid medications are prescribed by dermatologists when inflammation or itching is present, but these can trigger Vitiligo too! As such, corticosteroids should only be used to treat active inflammation and not as a preventive measure! Don’t rely on to control vitiligo from spreading; look for other things to do on your own too!
8. Omega-3 Fatty Acids- the fatty acid most advertised today for its many health benefits is omega 3 fatty acids, also called linolenic acid, alpha-linolenic acid, and gamma-linoleic acid. They are said to be natural anti-inflammatory substances that can help remove excess cells in vitiligo, thus preventing it from spreading!!
9. Vitamins- Vitamin A, beta carotene, and vitamin E have been known as vitamins with antioxidant properties that prevent the free radical formation and boost immune system function well enough to stop vitiligo permanently! If you’re a smoker, especially a heavy one, then take these so your body can detoxify the harmful chemicals better!
10. Diet- A healthy diet doesn’t only mean adding more fruits and vegetables to your daily routine; it also entails limiting the intake of sugar and refined carbohydrates like white flour and sugar, which contribute to rapid fluctuations in blood sugar levels that affect many metabolic processes! They can even speed up the spread of vitiligo too!! Avoid sodas because they contain high amounts of phosphoric acid (which damages skin by weakening its natural barrier function), caffeine (which is dehydrating), and refined sugars (causes craving for sweets which causes weight gain!). If you have a balanced diet, your body will have more excellent defenses against disease states!
Vitiligo is not contagious or life-threatening. Still, it affects one’s self-confidence, especially if there are extensive white patches on visible body parts like the face, hands, etc. With this, you can also consider homeopathic treatment for vitiligo. Homeopathy doctors can help you with customized homeopathic treatment for vitiligo and natural ways to cure this condition. Book an appointment with a homeopathy doctor through OHO Homeopathy now!