Vitiligo – What Causes It?

Vitiligo – What Causes It?

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By Dr. Meeta Mantri, Dermatology,

In vitiligo, there is a destruction of melanocayes (colour producing cells). Vitiligo or leukoderma is a skin condition caused due to a significant reduction in the production of melanin (the pigment responsible for the color of your skin, hair, and eyes) by the melanocyte cells; thereby leading to the formation of white patches around the concerned regions. Vitiligo tends to manifest in patches all over the body and can be embarrassing for the affected person.

Although the exact causes are not clear to the doctors, some recent researches suggest that in around 30% of the cases, this disorder occurs due to hereditary factors.

Some other possible factors of vitiligo are:

  1. Vitiligo is an autoimmune disorder, meaning that it is caused when the body’s immune system attacks its own healthy tissues.
  2. Vitiligo can occur due to a constant and prolonged exposure to sunlight and industrial chemicals.
  3. If you have suffered from anxiety attacks in the past, the possibility of this condition increases considerably as there are greater chances of destruction of the melanocytes.

Dermatology Treatments-

Unfortunately, this disorder cannot be cured permanently, but if diagnosed early, the discoloration process can be slowed down and the lost skin color can be restored.

The prescribed dermatology treatments that can effectively cure vitiligo are as follows:

  1. If the disorder is diagnosed in its early stages, the doctor might prescribe the usage of topical creams containing Vitamin D or Tacrolimus to get rid of the discoloration. However, it is advised to use the creams moderately to avoid side effects of itching, redness, and dry skin.
  2. You can also opt for processes such as light therapy, laser therapy, and de-pigmentation (the process of skin lightening) to get rid of partial vitiligo.
  3. Doctors might also suggest a process that combines a dosage of Psoralen and Photochemotherapy (a type of treatment using UV radiations). To get clear skin, this process should be repeated 3 times a week for almost a year.
  4. If the above mentioned modes of treatment do not suffice, then the dermatologist might suggest other procedures such as grafting (transplanting new skin tissues) and micro-pigmentation.