What is Vitiligo?

Vitiligo, which is found in 1% of people in the world, is a skin condition such as psoriasis and eczema. Cells responsible for skin color are calculated in individuals with vitiligo. When these cells, called melanocytes, are destroyed, they cannot produce pigment for the skin. This pigment is called melanin. If enough melanin is not produced in the skin, that part of the skin loses its color and appears lighter than other skin areas.

Where is vitiligo seen?

Areas of discoloration can be seen all over the body. But especially:

  • Sun-exposed areas: Hand, parcel, foot and face area

  • Intraoral mucosal areas

  • nose wings

  • Genital area

  • behind the eye

  • In some extreme cases, even the patient’s hair may turn gray or white.

Vitiligo can affect different parts of the body at the same time. Vitiligo is not transmitted from person to person, just like psoriasis and eczema.

What are the symptoms of vitiligo?

The first symptom of vitiligo is white patches on the skin surface. It can appear on any area of ​​the body, including around the eyes. These spots can be small or large in size.

If there are regional symptoms: If the white areas are in a certain area or in the form of sporadic spots, they usually remain constant in that area. It usually lasts for 1-2 years and then disappears. Body-wide spread cases are very rare.

If there are common symptoms: If the white areas are spread symmetrically throughout the body, it means that most of the skin cells throughout the body have melanocyte damage. This is the form commonly seen in society. It usually continues throughout the person’s life in the form of exacerbations and improvements. It is impossible to predict when it will start and when it will end.

What are the factors that increase the risk of vitiligo?

It is not known exactly what causes vitiligo. It is not thought to be familial because most vitiligo patients have not been found in any family of vitiligo patients. However, the presence of autoimmune diseases such as psoriasis and eczema increases the risk of vitiligo.

In addition, the presence of NLRP1 and PTPN22 genes also increases the risk of vitiligo.

According to most researchers, vitiligo is an autoimmune disease. Because vitiligo, like psoriasis and eczema, occurs as a result of the body’s defense cells destroying their own skin cells. However, it is not yet understood what causes this attack mechanism.

Considering the general population, in addition to vitiligo patients

  • Scleroderma (a disorder of the body’s connective tissue)

  • Lupus

  • thyroiditis

  • Psoriasis

  • Regional baldness (alopecia areata)

  • type 1 diabetes

  • Vitamin B12 deficiency

  • Addison’s disease

  • Rheumatoid arthritis may be seen.

Some experts have stated that vitiligo develops after the following events.

  • common sunburn

  • deep skin incisions

  • Toxin exposure

  • chemical damage

  • high stress level

What are the complications of vitiligo?

Vitiligo has few physiological side effects. The most serious complication is loss of function that may occur in the eye and ear. Apart from this, the skin area affected by vitiligo becomes more open to sunburns. Patients should be careful in this respect.

Psychological side effects are common.

  • Avoiding going out in public

  • Depression

  • Canceling your activities

  • Anxiety

  • Emotional depression is common.

If vitiligo patients have some of the above mentioned psychological symptoms, they should definitely consult their doctor. In addition, group therapy helps to overcome these problems.

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