Vitiligo

Vitiligo, pronounced "vit-ill-eye-go", is a skin disorder that appears in milky white patches on the skin's surface. Vitiligo, or leukoderma, results when the body attacks its own immune system. The body attacks skin cells called melanocytes that are responsible for producing skin pigment. Vitiligo mainly appears on sun exposed areas like the hands, face, lips, necks, eyes and nostrils. However, vitiligo can also develop in the armpits or on the groin, nipples and genitalia. There are symptoms of this type of skin disorder.

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At least one tenth of the world's population suffers from vitiligo. It strikes both genders and all races indiscriminately. In many instances people who suffer from vitiligo also develop gray hair, called "poliosis", on their scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes and beard at an early age. Approximately 50-percent of patients with vitiligo develop the disorder before the age of 20.

Vitiligo is diagnosed in 1 of 3 types due to its distribution pattern. Focal pattern vitiligo refers to a limited amount of depigmentation that only appears on one or a few areas of the skin. Segmental pattern vitiligo occurs strictly on one side of the body. And finally, generalized pattern vitiligo is evident on various parts of the body.

Studies have shown that vitiligo is hereditary. About 20-percent of all vitiligo patients have evidence of skin disorder in their family history.

Vitiligo sufferers lose their natural protection against the sun in the areas affected. As a result, protecting your skin from sunburn becomes vital. Some cosmetics are manufactured to mask vitiligo - such as sunless tanners and waterproof concealers. These help darken and even out areas of vitiligo to match the rest of the skin's color. Topical steroid cream and light therapy (UVA and UVB) are the most common treatments to control the further development of vitiligo.


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