Vitiligo is considered a disease characterized by the loss of skin coloration, causing skin pigmentation cells, e.g. the cells that make the person have a certain skin tone, to begin to die. This causes the person to develop whitish spots on the body, which are more noticeable in black people or with darker skin tone. Lesions are formed due to the decrease or absence of melanocytes (cells responsible for the formation of melanin, pigment that gives color to the skin) in the affected sites.
In addition to appearing in the arms, feet, hands and throughout the body of each individual, vitiligo can also present in unusual places, such as the hair and the inside of the mouth. It gradually appears and, as it progresses, the person is presenting new spots, in new places of the body. It is impossible to predict how far it will extend or which specific places it will reach.
The causes of the disease are not yet clearly established, but autoimmune phenomena seem to be associated with vitiligo. In addition, emotional changes or traumas may be among the factors that trigger or aggravate the disease.
Vitiligo is not an infectious disease, which can be transmissible to other people. You don't get vitiligo from someone else who presents the disease, only this disease develops. Vitiligo is a very delicate condition because it directly affects the patient's self-esteem. Many individuals with the disease need a medical follow-up done with a psychologist, to better deal with changes in appearance.
Most patients with vitiligo do not manifest any symptom sand, other than the appearance of white spots on the skin. In some cases, they report feeling tenderness and pain in the affected area. However, a major concern of dermatologists is the emotional symptoms that patients may develop due to the disease.
The diagnosis of vitiligo is essentially clinical, as the spots usually have a characteristic location and distribution. Skin biopsy reveals the complete absence of melanocytes in the affected areas, except at the edges of the lesion.
Currently, there are excellent results in the treatment of the disease, the fact that it cannot speak of cure, does not mean that there are not several therapeutic options. Treatment aims to stop the increase of lesions and repigmentation of the skin.
The treatment of vitiligo is individualized and should be followed up with a dermatologist, according to the characteristics of each patient. Results can vary considerably between one person and another. Therefore, only a qualified professional can indicate the best option. It is important to remember that the disease can have excellent control with proper therapy and complete repigmentation, without any color differentiation.