Vitiligo (pronounced vit-ill-EYE-go) is a generally unpredictable skin disease, which results white patches appearing on the skin. Vitiligo is a non-lethal and it does not cause any organic harm, but it has a devastating effect on social life of the patient and their family.
Vitiligo is a life-long condition and it’s unlikely that you will ever be completely free of it. Vitiligo isn't contagious, so you can't catch it from other people or pass it on. It tends to spread over time, often for no apparent reason. The good news, a proper treatment protocol may effectively put it under control and reduce appearance of white patches.
Initially, the vitiligo may start as a patch that is slightly paler than the rest of your skin but will gradually become completely white. The edges of the patch may be smooth or irregular and may have an inflamed red border. Typically, vitiligo produces symmetrical depigmented areas of skin that otherwise appear perfectly normal. Learn more
How Many People Are Affected By Vitiligo?
What Is Known About Vitiligo?
Vitiligo is a very complex skin disease. It is characterized by a sudden loss of melanin in the skin, which turns it milky white in irregular patches. Complete knowledge of its etiology has proved elusive, despite decades of intense research. Vitiligo is a chronic, persistent and often progressive disorder - spontaneous repigmentation is uncommon.
The current thinking is that vitiligo represents a group of different disorders with a similar outcome - the appearance of white patches on the skin. The convergence theory states that stress, accumulation of toxic compounds, infections, autoimmunity, genetic predisposition, altered cellular environment, and impaired melanocyte migration can all contribute to the initiation process of vitiligo. Autoimmune mechanisms likely underlie generalized vitiligo, while a more localized phenomenon (i.e. the altered activities of sensitive nerves in the skin) may be responsible for segmental or focal vitiligo. Vitiligo may also develop at the site of physical skin trauma - this is known as the 'Koebner phenomenon.'
Not all white patches on skin are vitiligo – in fact white patches resembling vitiligo are not unusual on the skin and are named leukodermas. Vitiligo is a specific form of leukoderma with distinct features that separate it from other leukodermas.
Chemical leukoderma can be induced by dyes, perfume, detergents, cleansers, insecticides, rubber condoms, rubber slippers, black socks and shoes, eyeliner, lip liner, lipstick, toothpaste, antiseptics with phenolic-derivatives, and mercuric iodide-containing germicidal soap. Chemical leukoderma may trigger occupational vitiligo or generalized vitiligo.
Occupational vitiligo may occur in those who work with depigmenting substances such as hydroquinone, paratertiary butyl catechol, paratertiary butyl phenol, paratertiary amyl phenol, and hydroquinone monomethyl ether. The only way to know if a depigmented patch on the skin is vitiligo or not is to consult a dermatologist with special interest in pigmentary disorders of the skin.
More information about vitiligo genetics is provided by the U.S. National Library of Medicine (link).
History of Vitiligo
The History of Vitiligo can be traced to as early as Rig Veda, an ancient Indian sacred collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns. The term vitiligo was perhaps derived from the Latin word 'vitelius' - used to describe the white flesh of calves. The first written use of the word to Celsus in his classic Latin book De Medicina in the first Century AD.
I support the petition to designate June 25 as Vitiligo World Day and save millions of people worldwide from social isolation and persecution.
What is coming?
XVII Master Class on Vitiligo in Manaus, Brazil
XVII Master Class on Vitiligo in Brazil will focus on therapeutic options for vitiligo, including ethno-botanical or 'traditional medicines' of Amazon tribes. When: J...03 June 2016 00:00, Manaus, Brazil
What tests should be done?
No tests are usually necessary to make the diagnosis. The white patches may be seen more easily under Wood's light examination.
Will it spread?
The condition varies from person to person. Some people only get a few small, white patches that progress no further. Other people get bigger white patches that join u...
Pyrostegia venusta as a folk medicine for vitiligo?
Pyrostegia venusta is a neotropical evergreen vine widely spread in Brazil throughout fields, at the coast, edge of the woods and along roadsides (see photo below). Po...
Is there a traditional medicine to treat vitiligo?
During the last decades, new methods of therapeutic research, ethno-botany and ethno-pharmacology and even archeo-pharmacology (PubMed), have been used extensively to ...