MPG Narratives (Maria) writes about books, writing, food and the occasional random topic. Qualified web content manager and author.
Vitiligo is A Skin Disease
Vitiligo affects the skin and is possibly caused by an autoimmune deficiency, although the actual cause is not known. The condition affects the melanin in the skin causing random, blotchy white/cream spots on the skin.
People who have dark skin and suffer this condition display more noticeable patches, however, it is the randomness of the spots and the parts of the body affected which define what the condition is. Vitiligo is not just pigmentation and in many cases is very obvious.
Initially, the skin may seem to have peeled after tanning but as more spots appear, a visit to a doctor or dermatologist will confirm the diagnosis of this disease, which involves a loss of melanin, the skin pigment that determines skin colouration.
Vitiligo can manifest at any age, it may occur together with Addison's disease, Hyperthyroidism or Anaemia. A rare skin condition, it may run in families but in many cases, there may be no apparent cause.
People who suffer the condition must be very careful when they are outdoors as the spots will burn and are more prone to skin cancers. Sunscreen should be applied whenever outdoor activities are undertaken and hats, as well as long pants and shirts with long sleeves, are a good idea. Try to stay out of the sun between 10 am and 3 pm, the hottest part of the day.
Treatments for Vitiligo are difficult and largely ineffective with many sufferers deciding to live with it. The treatments can be expensive and need strict adherence for them to work. There are many products that "mask" the spots, some people adjust their diet to slow the progress of the condition and many others try all sorts of cures without too much success.
Treatments that are available work best as an early intervention. Ask your doctor or dermatologist about the best treatment course for your vitiligo.
- Phototherapy - using ultraviolet light to slowly regain the pigment. The process is slow and can be expensive depending on the severity of the spots. Dermatologists perform this and recommend being treated 3 times per week initially.
- Medicines - Corticosteroid cream applied directly to the patches. Also immunosuppressant creams and topical drugs.
- Makeup - Some makeup is available that may cover or mask the patches of vitiligo. Many sufferers use tinted sunscreens that help with sun exposure as well as masking the patches.
- Skin grafts - in extreme cases skin grafts are used to cover larger patches on areas such as the face that may be prone to sun damage.
- Depigmentation - A final resort. This may result in uniform skin tone however no melanin remains, therefore the skin is prone to sun damage. Rumours abound that this is the treatment the Late Michael Jackson resorted to, which in turn gave him a more uniform skin tone, albeit a much lighter tone. Those who consider this treatment must wear sunscreens for the rest of their lives and remain out of the sun as much as possible.
I have used this cream and it has worked to a degree, but it takes time to work.
Links and Information about Vitiligo Treatment
Consult your dermatologist regarding any treatment you wish to undergo to treat your particular type of Vitiligo.
Novitil® from DermaBest,Inc - http://www.dermabest.com/ Novitil is a topical product applied directly to the skin.
SCENESSE® - http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/198954.php A new drug being developed in Australia. Still undergoing testing as it was initially developed for sun protection
Note: Vitiligo causes low self-esteem or depression issues in sufferers hence there are many products claiming to "cure vitiligo". Please beware when such claims are made as there currently is no cure. The above is only a shortlist of products and services available, please consult a medical expert for a full diagnosis.
Mental Health and Emotional Issues with Vitiligo
Many people who have this condition may suffer some negative emotions related to their unsightly spots. Depending on the severity of the patches, especially where the face is affected, self-esteem issues may occur.
Age is also an issue, the younger a person is the more aware they are of their appearance, hence problems occur with their self-esteem. There are some cases where the condition can look unsightly and people think they can catch the disease if they touch a sufferer. This is borne from ignorance of the condition but does cause many negative issues in the sufferer who may go to any lengths, and much expense, to cover the spots.
There are stories of sufferers considering suicide due to being teased and bullied about their strange skin and some stories of people staying indoors at all times so as not to be seen. All this leads to many other emotional problems such as depression, anxiety and self-loathing.
Vitiligo is just a skin disorder, it is not contagious and other than being careful in the sun, there is not much else to worry about. Teasing or abusing someone because they have an uneven skin tone is just horrendous and childish.
One famous sufferer was the Late Michael Jackson and we all know how much emotional pain and depression he experienced, some of which may have been due to Vitiligo and his skin whitening treatment.
If You Need Help with Diagnosis or Treatment Try These -
- The Magical Cure For Vitiligo | Vitiligo Cover
Good advice on this site about the use of so called "cures" ... I love the communication between people on this site, but let's keep 2 points in mind: 1. giving advice about cures is a big responsibility because some
- Vitiligo Association of Australia
Vitiligo Association of Australia is a non-profit support group assisting patients with Vitiligo
- Vitiligo Friends - Make Friends, Share Healing Ideas, Inspire Hope
A place where those with vitiligo, their family, and friends can share information and keep in touch.
- Fast Facts About Vitiligo
What Is Vitiligo? Fast Facts: An Easy-to-Read Series of Publications for the Public
My Experience with Vitiligo
The first patch of white skin appeared many years ago under my chin on my neck, a patch I thought was peeling skin after a short summer holiday. At the same time, some areas of my skin became itchy, especially on my legs below the knees. The itch was so severe I scratched until it bled.
A trip to my local GP and a blood test confirmed a diagnosis of Hyperthyroidism, causing the excessive itch and possibly the Vitiligo. The thyroid problem is under control with Thyroxine tablets, which is hormone replacement therapy and this also helped settle the itch. The vitiligo, however, cannot be controlled and has spread to my legs, hands and elbows as well as the neck area.
My experience with the condition has not affected my self-esteem, nor have I spent lots of money on trying to cover it, other than using sunscreens to protect my skin. I guess this has much to do with the fact I was diagnosed in my early forties and am not too hung up on my appearance, well, not to the point a younger person may be. Had Vitiligo affected me when I was in my teens, I think I would have had a very different emotional reaction.
Occasionally I see people stare but they don't really bother me as I am happy in my own skin (pardon the pun) and I just get on with life. I do consider myself lucky in that my Vitiligo is mild compared to some, and, my face has not been affected to date.
It is understandable when people who suffer the condition become upset if others comment or stare, it can be quite confronting as there is not much that can be done, a frustration for many sufferers. People without the condition must understand you cannot catch Vitiligo, it is an autoimmune disease that affects approximately 1 - 4% of the world's population, so the chances of catching Vitiligo are non-existent.
Interestingly enough, since being diagnosed with the condition I know of six others who live in my area with the condition, which for a rare disease, is quite amazing. Of the 6 of us, 3 suffer thyroid problems as well.
Having a thyroid problem does not necessarily mean you will develop Vitiligo but the conditions can occur simultaneously. Consult your local physician should you suspect a random spot on your skin may be vitiligo or you are suffering a problem that may be Thyroid related, such as excessive tiredness or sudden weight gain/loss.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2011 Maria Giunta
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misard on July 18, 2013:
I'm 34 yr old man who had vitiligo for 12 years. Mine spread rapidly throughout my body, with depigmentation on joints, under eyes, hair, etc. I tried oral and light medications to no real avail. People used to make hurtful comments before, during and after treatment,... and this was tough. Eventually I started to make a natural treatment which has been a blessing to me. You only need to read this review in the link below... you have nothing to lose.
Begin a new life, you deserve it …Good luck!
Maria Giunta (author) from Sydney, Australia on June 25, 2013:
People should be more careful about what they say, especially when it's something like vitiligo, this is a disease you have no control over. Thanks for your comment Cristian, I will check out this natural treatment. Glad to hear it was of help to you.
Cristian Guzman on June 24, 2013:
I'm 35 yr old man who had vitiligo for 12 years. Mine spread rapidly throughout my body, with depigmentation on joints, under eyes, hair, etc. I tried oral and light medications to no real avail. People used to make hurtful comments before, during and after treatment,... and this was tough. Eventually I started to make a natural treatment which has been a blessing to me. You only need to read this review in the link below... you have nothing to lose.
Begin a new life, you deserve it …Good luck!
Maria Giunta (author) from Sydney, Australia on May 26, 2013:
Thanks for commenting Writer Fox, it is a little known disease. Vitiligo can occur in people who suffer from thyroid problems but it is not always the case. The reason why some people with thyroid problems get the skin disorder and others don't is not known.
Writer Fox from the wadi near the little river on May 23, 2013:
Very interesting article on this little known disease. I never knew that a thyroid problem was involved. Humans have so many skin problems. It's because they don't have fur, like me.
Maria Giunta (author) from Sydney, Australia on July 08, 2011:
Vitiligo isn't a serious disease but can affect self esteem as on some people it is quite obvious. Luckily not many people are affected by it in the way that Michael Jackson was. Thanks for your comment Lady_E.
Elena from London, UK on July 07, 2011:
Good you are raising awareness. I'm so surprised to see the effect of it on Michael Jackson, if that is what he really had.
A lot of people think he bleached his skin, which is common with dark African people. I still love MJ anyway.
Maria Giunta (author) from Sydney, Australia on April 07, 2011:
Hi Pamela and thanks for your comment. If your friend has vitiligo on her arms she will more than likely have it on other parts of her body.
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on April 07, 2011:
This is interesting information as I had heard of it but didn't know anything about this disease. I know someone who has this on her arms and maybe other places but I'm not sure. I haven't seen her for a long time. Very good information.
Maria Giunta (author) from Sydney, Australia on April 07, 2011:
Hmmm, they looked at lot better when I was younger JB, LOL but thanks for the compliment. As for products that have helped, no not really. Most of them are expensive and the condition doesn't bother me enough to use anything. Thanks for your comment.
JB 1310 on April 07, 2011:
Very interesting information about a condition that not many people know about. Have you found any products that help your vitiligo? Nice legs MPG!!
Maria Giunta (author) from Sydney, Australia on April 06, 2011:
Hello TravelinAsia, you were quick off the mark! You are so right, he did have a lot more to worry about and your skin condition/colour should not make any different to you as a person. However, Vitiligo does cause self esteem issues and I hope this hub helps sufferers to cope better.
Thanks for passing by my hubs again, appreciate your support.
TravelinAsia from Thailand/Southeast Asia on April 06, 2011:
Michael Jackson, he has a lot more to worry about than the color of his skin! With all the talk of child molestation, it is surprising that anyone cares what color he is. One thing is for sure, the media was pretty hard on the King Of Pop.