Q: Can vitiligo be cured?

A: If you’re like me, “Yes.”

12-07-2018

N.B.: I would like to inform you that I am an ordinary person who is narrating his true story from his own experience. I am not a medical expert. What I’m sharing here is summarized information collected from what I’ve read, from people whom I asked, and my own true story. This should not be taken as a substitute for medical advice.

Part 1

What is vitiligo?

According to Vitiligo Society, vitiligo is a long-term skin condition that causes an area of the skin to lose its colour (pigmentation), which results in the area looking white or pink in appearance.

Vitiligo can actually appear anywhere on the body, but it’s more likely to develop in some of the following areas:

  • Eyes, nostrils, belly button, elbows, and genital areas.
  • Occasionally found inside of the mouth.
  • Areas of the body that have folds, such as the knees and elbows.

Because pigment cells give colour to hair as well as skin, some people with vitiligo may notice early onset greying of the hair or a loss of colour on the lips.

There is no prejudice in terms of who can develop the condition. Therefore, it can affect anyone, whatever their skin colour or ethnic origin, but will be more visually prominent in those with darker skin. People with fairer skin colour may not even realise that their skin is not making pigment.

Although vitiligo can start at any age, according to Vitiligo Society 95% of people who have vitiligo develop the condition before their 40th birthday. But. I am from those 5%.

Facts we should know about vitiligo

Vitiligo is not contagious. You can’t catch it and you certainly can’t pass it on by touching someone.

  • Vitiligo is not linked to cancer, albinism or leprosy.
  • Vitiligo is not an infectious disease.
  • Vitiligo is nota physically harmful condition.  

Types of vitiligo

There are three known types of vitiligo; they are dependent on how many patches someone has and where they might present on the body:

1. Focal vitiligo.

2. Segmental vitiligo.

3. Generalised vitiligo.

Is vitiligo hereditary?

Although vitiligo is not strictly associated with family genetics, it can run in families. Vitiligo Society writes approximately 30% of people with the condition will have a family history according to the Vitiligo Society. Therefore, children will not get vitiligo strictly on the grounds that a parent has it. However, they do stand a higher chance of developing the condition.

What causes vitiligo?

Why vitiligo occurs is not currently known. It is thought to be linked to autoimmune diseases, which result in the immune system attacking its own healthy tissues in error, instead of foreign cells such as viruses or bacteria. The first signs may be in an area of the skin that has received extensive sun damage. Some people with vitiligo may also be affected by one other autoimmune disease.

Is there a way to prevent vitiligo?

There is no way you can predict where, when or even if you are going to get vitiligo. And as we don’t know why vitiligo occurs, there is no way it can be prevented.  It is thought to be triggered by a combination of genetics and environmental conditions, which can appear at any age. However, it is thought that several factors can contribute to its onset:

  • Stress.
  • Damage to the skin due to critical sunburn or a cut(s).
  • Heredity – it may run in families.
  • Hormonal changes in the body, for example, adolescence.
  • Exposure to some chemicals.
  • Liver and/or kidney issues.

Let’s consolidate our knowledge about the skin condition. Global Vitiligo Foundation puts the following facts that we ought to know about vitiligo on its site:

  • Vitiligo is an autoimmune disorder and not merely a “cosmetic” problem.
  • Vitiligo affects the immune system which then affects the skin, resulting in white patches.
  • 70 million people across the world have vitiligo.
  • There are no boundaries of race, ethnicity or gender.
  • Anyone – children and adults representing all ethnicities – can get vitiligo at any time.
  • 20-35% of patients are children.
  • Nearly 1% of the population is affected.
  • Vitiligo is NOT contagious.
  • Vitiligo is difficult to hide. This disease is misunderstood and the isolation people with vitiligo feel can be crippling.
  • Psychologically devastating, many patients feel isolated and devastated by its impact on their relationships and personal and professional lives.
  • There is no known cure.

I am going to narrate my personal experience, example and the actions to be taken in the next part. Have a nice time.

Main sources:

vitiligososociety.org

globalvitiligofoundation.org

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