White people can have vitiligo

Vitiligo - white spot disease

What is Vitiligo?

Vitiligo comes from the Latin (Vitium = error). This disease is popularly known as white spot disease. In the course of life, white spots of different shapes and sizes appear on the skin, which are sometimes limited to a few areas, but sometimes can flow together to form larger areas. Especially in people with a darker skin type, this disease can be disfiguring and cause great emotional stress.

How often does Vitiligo occur?

In Central Europe, around one percent of people are affected by this disease. Around half develop the first skin changes before the age of 20.

What Causes Vitiligo?

In Vitiligo, the immune system mistakenly recognizes pigment-forming cells in the skin (melanocytes) as foreign and undesirable, and it destroys these cells. As a result, pigment is no longer formed there and the skin becomes white in these areas. So it is not a question of an "immune deficiency", but rather a rather strong immune reaction in a direction that does not make sense. It is not known exactly how this malfunction of the immune system occurs. Among other things, genetic factors are discussed.

What types of progression are there?

The course and distribution pattern of Vitiligo vary greatly. There are minimal variants with only very small and isolated and also only partially discolored areas, and there are gradients in which the spots become larger and can even flow together under certain circumstances. In very rare cases, the skin can become completely discolored (generalized variant).

Vitiligo is often seen on the backs of the hands and fingers, around the eyes, as well as in the mouth and genital regions. Other common areas are the armpits, the skin around the anus, the groin, the belly button, the knees and the elbows. However, all other parts of the body can also be affected.

Sometimes such bright spots disappear on their own. But sometimes new ones are added. If there are a lot of stains, it is not very likely that all of those stains will go away.

How do I know if I have vitiligo?

Your dermatologist can usually determine whether vitiligo is present by examining the skin. Sometimes a so-called Woodlight lamp is also used. This is a UV lamp that can be used to better identify brightening in a darkened room. This lamp can also be used to detect spots that are only just beginning to develop.

The dermatologist who makes this diagnosis for the first time will also usually suggest a series of laboratory tests in order to rule out possible associated diseases or autoimmune processes.

Possible socialized diseases

About every third person who has vitiligo also has an autoimmune disease of the thyroid, which can lead to an underactive or overactive thyroid. Vitiligo is much more rarely associated with alopecia areata (circular hair loss) or diabetes mellitus (diabetes). In addition, there are other, albeit very rare, diseases that can be seen in connection with vitiligo.

Treatment of Vitiligo

There are a number of different therapy methods, depending on where the light spots are. As a rule, the existing forms of treatment are complex and lead to partial success, i.e. to an improvement in the situation without the vitiligo completely disappearing.

There are amazingly good ways to get rid of annoying stains camouflage to be covered in such a way that they are really no longer seen. This is where waterproof and abrasion-resistant cover-up make-up is used. It is often worthwhile to get advice and training from a beautician.

An alternative can be to use it by yourself Tanning creams be.

When exposed to the sun, the vitiligo spots stay white and the rest of the skin turns tan. You can then see the spots much more clearly. Therefore is a consistent one Sun protection Every day in any weather with the sun protection factor 50 a good thing, so that the Vitiligo remains inconspicuous.

The regular intake of Beta carotene tablets can make the difference between the Vitiligo spots and normal skin appear a little less impressive by developing a slightly yellow-orange shade of the skin.

A UVB 311 nm narrow band light therapy at the dermatologist's practice so far leads to the best results. But it takes 50 or sometimes even up to 300 sessions two to three times a week, and even then you often achieve a significant decrease, but no permanent healing and no 100% disappearance of all spots. If new pigment forms again under such light therapy, this usually begins in the pores. For this reason, the first stage looks in such a way that many brown dots appear in the light spots, so that a piebald impression is created. In a few cases, however, light therapy remains ineffective. The costs of such treatment are covered by the health insurance.

The usage of Cortisone creams leads in many cases to a new pigmentation (partially), however, when using such creams for a large number of weeks there is a risk of side effects so that this treatment is only possible as a short-term addition.

The usage of Tacrolimus ointment is also possible over a longer period of time, and the risks associated with long-term cortisone ointment treatments do not exist here. Partial success occurs in a larger proportion of the patients treated. However, the costs for this somewhat more expensive ointment do not necessarily have to be covered by the health insurance company.

In the case of stable vitiligo foci that have not changed for years, the possibility of a transplantation of pigment-forming cells (Melanocyte transplant) to be discussed. Here, melanocytes are removed from healthy skin and placed on the vitiligo foci. So that these cells can grow there, the top layer of skin must first be removed there. This treatment is reserved for a few special centers, and there is generally no health insurance coverage.


Is Vitiligo Contagious?

No, definitely not. Nor does it come from a lack of personal hygiene, and it cannot be transmitted through physical contact or in any other way.

Does vitiligo favor skin cancer?

For a long time it was believed that the risk of skin cancer is somewhat higher in vitiligo herds because there is no endogenous sunscreen there. Apparently that is definitely not the case. Skin cancers seem to tend to "avoid" foci of vitiligo. Nevertheless, it must be remembered that vitiligo spots get sunburn much faster than the rest of the skin.

Can I have a positive effect on my vitiligo through a special diet or lifestyle?

It is only too understandable that one wants to influence a potentially disturbing illness as favorably as possible. However, all previous studies have found no diet, no food supplements, no vitamins, no other cures, no treatment with antioxidants or anything else that would more often have a favorable effect on vitiligo. So no.

Can Vitiligo be caused by psychological stress?

Some people with vitiligo report stressful life situations just before a new flare of vitiligo breaks out. However, there are no scientifically proven findings about it.