Vitiligo at The NLM

About Vitiligo

Pronounced: Vih-till-eye-go

Vitiligo is a chronic (long term) skin disorder that affects about 1 percent of the world population and is characterised by the loss of skin colour, or pigment, from the skin causing the affected skin to become lighter than the skin surrounding it. Vitiligo affects people from all races and colours of skin, male and female, all age groups society groups and currently cannot be cured.

The condition is not infectious and cannot be spread or caught by coming into contact with sufferers. The condition causes the body's melanocytes to stop producing melanin (the body's natural pigment), which in turn causes the skin to lose its natural colour. It is believed that the condition is a result of our individual genetic make up. This does not mean, however, that a person will contract Vitiligo just because a parent has the condition. The circumstances for why a child may contract Vitiligo whilst both parents show no signs of the disorder are still unknown. This issue of triggering factors is still under investigation to see if there are a series of genetic triggers required to cause the skin condition to take hold of the sufferer.

Occasionally Vitiligo may appear in sufferers who also suffer from other disorders such as alopecia areata, thyroid imbalance or diabetes, or where there is a family history of these conditions. Whilst this is not always the case, a predisposition to one or more of these conditions may help a medical professional or dermatologist to diagnose Vitiligo.

As with many skin disorders Vitiligo does not follow any set pattern or respond to a single form of treatment. Each sufferer may respond to the condition in different ways and therefore any treatment of the condition should only be undertaken with the close supervision of a medical professional.

Care should be taken by any sufferer to ensure that the areas of Vitiligo on the body are properly protected from natural sunlight. The skin uses melanin to help protect the body from natural sunlight, therefore as the production of melanin has been drastically reduced or halted where Vitiligo appears it is very important that the sufferer takes great care not to expose the areas to direct sunlight. Sun block is recommended.

Vitiligo Cure

Unfortunately there is not currently any form of Vitiligo Cure. The condition is Chronic however treatments can assist in controlling the spread and intensity of the disease.

Treatment for Vitiligo

Despite the fact that Vitiligo cannot be cured, there are a number of treatments that can help to slow and even reverse the process. It must be understood though that the reversal of Vitiligo may not be permanent as the disorder can return at any time. The range of treatments for Vitiligo typically include:

  • Topical Steroids
  • PUVA (Psoralen and Ultra Violet 'A' Light Therapy)
  • Tacrolimus or Protopic Topical application may help around the face and neck.
  • Tacrolimus or Protopic Topical application may help around the face and neck.

Vitiligo Support

Skincell International Forum for Skin Disorders is a totally non-profit site run by skin disorder sufferers, for skin disorder sufferers. We share a lively and informative message board forum where any sufferer or their family is welcome to seek support and help in dealing with their situation. Vitiligo sufferers are always welcome in the The Skincell Forum.