On the World Vitiligo Day It is Just a Myth

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Vitiligo is a disease the causes of are not yet discovered; however, scientists suggest that it more likely occurs due to a dysfunction in the human immune system, where the immune system attacks the cells responsible for the color of the skin, known as melanocytes. White spots appear on the skin and are more common in areas of the skin that are exposed to the Sun; such as: the face, around the mouth and eyes in particular, the neck, and the arms.

We cannot predict how much vilitigo will spread around the body; white spots may spread to other areas of the body within weeks, or can remain the same over months or years. Vitiligo appears at any age, but it is more common between 10 and 30 years of age; it is usually common among dark skinned people and affects both men and women in equal proportions.

Vitiligo is not contagious and cannot be transmitted by touch, or via bodily fluids, or by sharing personal objects. It is related to genes and genetic factors, so it may appear in some families, and the chances of developing it increases in those who suffer from other autoimmune diseases. Doctors diagnose vitiligo patients based on examining the white spots physically and based on the pathological history of the patient and his family. Diagnosis may require some tests to detect other autoimmune diseases.

The treatment of vitiligo works on restoring the skin to its natural color, but it does not guarantee its elimination or decreasing the chances of its recurrence. In treating vitiligo, doctors depend on the patient's condition, age, and general health. Some people may use cosmetics to hide the white spots; this usually happens in simple cases. Topical cortisone creams are also used; they have proven effective in reducing the spread of the white spots, and helping restore normal skin color in some cases.

Creams containing substances such as tacrolimus, which reduce the body's immunity, can also be used; these creams have shown effectiveness in minor cases. There is also a treatment using UV rays; where the rays are shed at a high dose on the white spots, and the improvement starts to appear within 6 to 12 months. Doctors usually advise vitiligo patients to use sunscreen, due to the sensitivity of these areas of the skin and to protect them from sunburn. In case the white spots spread over more than 50% of the skin, doctors may have to remove the pigment as a last resort, where the remaining natural skin color is removed; if other methods of treatment did not work.

Vitiligo patients do not feel any physical pain, and this disease does not prevent them from living their normal lives; however, what they really suffer is psychological pain as a result of how the society sees them and their feeling of being rejected. Some of them resort to isolation and lose confidence in themselves, and may become depressed; therefore, their condition gets worse, because the psychological stress is one of the factors that lead to the deterioration of the case. We should all support vitiligo patients, and inform everyone about the nature of the disease, to eliminate any myths about it.

References
medicinenet.com
medscape.com
ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
webmed.com

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