Vitiligo is an acquired skin disorder
with the absence of pigment cells
in the skin called melanocytes.
Each person's appearance is unique, but in general Vitiligo is characterized by white spots on skinwhere there is an absence of melanin at the top layer of the dermis. The spots can be single dots, patchy blotches or complete white areas. You should be proud of your own unique presence.
There is no single root to explain Vitiligo causes, it is relatively mysterious and the lack of full scientific understanding is the reason there is no universal and complete cure.
Many believe Vitiligo is an autoimmune disease. That is not conclusive or necessarily true. People with autoimmune issues may find the immune system triggering the systematic destruction of melanocytes in the skin. But, more research is needed to determine if in fact Vitiligo itself is a disease and what causes it.
Vitiligo affects 1% to 2% of the population, irrespective of sex, race, or age.
Well, you're not alone. Far from it. A person can be affected at any age, even birth. In half of all vitiligo cases, onset occurs between the ages of 10 and 30. Over 30% of affected individuals may report a positive family history.
People from families with an increased prevalence of thyroid disease, diabetes mellitus, and vitiligo appear to be at increased risk for development of vitiligo.
Both predisposing (genetic) and precipitating (environmental) factors contribute to vitiligo. These factor may include: physical trauma, illness, or emotional stress. Environmental stress and sunburn may also contribute.
Unfortunately, most prescribed treatments are not cures, and they often produce harsh side effects. UV radiation basically burns your skin while attempting to stimulate cells, but may increase the risk for caner.
While there is no cure or universal treatment
there are things you can try to re-pigment.
First, be sure to seek the advise of your doctor/dermatologist. There are many conditions similar to vitiligo that are caused by different things. If you do have vitiligo there are a limited number of FDA approved options, including UV radiation. Most drugs being tried are used "off label" (meaning they were made for other diseases). People have reported limited success and some side effects.
Topical creams are available. There are two ways they work: 1) Pigment dyes that basically cover up the spots (like make-up) and prescribed steroid creams that attempt to stimulate melanocytes into producing melanin. Both are temporary forms and must be used continually.
Supplements may support dietary deficiencies associated with loss of pigmentation, and are typically safe. However, studies on common dietary supplements are limited. More specialized therapies are showing promise.