Vitiligo

What is it?

Vitiligo is a benign condition characterised by the depigmentation of the skin cells. Its symptoms are cosmetically tiresome, but its impact can be very negative for some patients and cause a loss of confidence. About 1% of the world population suffers from vitiligo!

How does it appear?

Various theories have been developed, but its precise cause remains unknown.
The principal theory is that of auto-immunity. The body makes antibodies, which attack its own tissues and cause disease. In the case of vitiligo, it is assumed that the autoimmune response leads to the destruction of melanocytes. It was also proven that vitiligo patients are more frequently subject to other autoimmune diseases such as diabetes, thyroid disorders, alopecia areata.
Vitiligo also often seems to have a "family" origin. It happens that several people from the same family are affected by the disease. Identical twins are often sensitive to the appearance of vitiligo.
Certain factors can trigger the onset of vitiligo, but only for those at risk: serious illness, surgery, pregnancy, childbirth, sunburn, skin injuries. Emotional stress may also cause the onset of, or aggravate, the disease.

What does vitiligo look like?

Patches of Vitiligo are white and the contours are defined by a darker skin. These patches are obviously more noticeable on tanned skin or in people with a darker skin type. They can appear anywhere on the body, but the face, hands and genital area are the most commonly affected areas. Places where the skin has been damaged are also more prone to vitiligo in people at risk. The hairs that grow on vitiligo patches are usually white.

Who can get vitiligo?

It appears at any age and regardless of the skin colour. Its evolution is hard to predict. It is sometimes limited to a few spots, but can sometimes spread rapidly to larger patches. This can improve spontaneously, but can then also worsen. The improvements often involve areas exposed to the sun. Vitiligo patches burn faster in the sun because they are not protected by pigmentation.

How is it treated?

Different treatments exist, but they are not effective for everyone. They are generally only partially effective and therefore do not allow a full return of pigmentation.

  • Corticosteroids
  • PUVA
  • UVB
  • Calcipotriol

 
What can you do for yourself?

Camouflage
It is possible to conceal depigmentation spots with a makeup of the same skin colour. This method is usually considered if the spots are present on the face.

Sun protection
In case of vitiligo, the pigment that protects the skin from harmful effects of the sun is absent. It is for this reason that these depigmented patches burn easily. Protect therefore your skin from the sun by wearing long clothing or applying a sunscreen. In this way, the skin tans and is less of a contrast with depigmented patches.

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