Popularly known as Leucoderma or white spots, Vitiligo is an autoimmune disease, mediated by lymphocytes, that results in patchy depigmentation of the skin.
The pigment that gives your skin its normal colour is melanin, which is made by cells known as melanocytes. The cause of vitiligo is not yet fully known but many think that it is a disease in which the body makes antibodies to its own melanocytes, and in doing so destroys them. After that, the skin cannot make melanin properly, and vitiligo is the result. In support of this idea is the way that people with vitiligo are more likely than others to have diseases, caused in much the same way, of other organs such as the thyroid.
- Segmental vitiligo is restricted to one part of the body, but not necessarily a dermatome.
- Generalised vitiligo is often symmetrical and frequently involves the hands, wrists, knees and neck as well as the area around the body orifices.
- The hair of the scalp and beard may also depigmented.
- Sensation in the depigmented patches is normal.
- The course is unpredictable but most patches remain static or enlarge; a few repigment spontaneously.
The diagnosis is usually easy to make on the basis of the look of the patches (white with a normal skin texture) and the fact that the areas of vitiligo on the left side of the body roughly mirror those on the right. An ultraviolet light (Wood’s lamp) can help to show up white areas that could have been missed in a pale-skinned person.
Once the diagnosis of vitiligo has been made, your doctor may want to check you for thyroid disease, and for other autoimmune conditions that are more common than usual in people with vitiligo.
Foods that are loaded with vitamin c are believed to be good vitiligo food. Oranges, lemons, grapefruits, cantaloupe, kiwis, and strawberries are vitamin c-rich fruits that vitiligo sufferers need to incorporate into their regular diet. As for vegetables, tomatoes, red and green peppers and broccoli are rich in vitamin c as well.
There also have been studies that vitiligo may be reversed with significant doses of vitamin B-12. According to research, a deficiency in the said vitamin could lead to increased production of homocysteine, a compound that could be instrumental in the loss of pigment in particular areas of the human body. Foods that are good sources of vitamin B-12 include fortified breakfast cereals, liver, salmon, haddock, yogurt, trout and clams.
- API Textbook of Medicine
- Davidson’s Principles and Practice of Medicine