Vitiligo is a skin condition in which there is a loss of brown color (skin color) from areas of skin, resulting in irregular white patches. This happens because melanocytes in the skin are destroyed. Vitiligo can also affect the mucous membranes (such as the tissue inside the mouth and nose) and the eye.The exact cause of Vitiligo is unknown however it is said to be an autoimmune skin disorder which means immune cells of the body destroy the melanocytes (cells that produce brown pigment melanin). It is also possible that one or more genes may make a person more likely to get the disorder.
Symptoms of vitiligo
White patches on the skin are the main sign of vitiligo. These patches are more common in areas where the skin is exposed to the sun. The patches may be on the hands, feet, arms, face, and lips. Other common areas for white patches are:
- The armpits and groin (where the leg meets the body)
- Around the mouth
- Rectal areas
People with vitiligo often have hair that turns grey early. Those with dark skin may notice a loss of color inside their mouths.
Hyperpigmentation is a common condition in which patches of skin become darker in color than the normal surrounding skin. This darkening occurs when an excess of melanin, the brown pigment that produces normal skin color, forms deposits in the skin.
Age spots, also called liver spots, are flat gray, brown or black spots. They occur due to sun damage, and are referred to by doctors as “solar lenities”. These small, darkened patches vary in size and usually appear on the hands and face or other areas frequently exposed to the sun. Though age spots are very common in adults older than age 40, they can affect younger people as well.
Melasma also called as Chloasma is a dark skin discoloration that appears on sun-exposed areas of the face. These spots are similar in appearance to age spots but are larger areas of darkened skin that appear most often as a result of hormonal changes.
Melasma is a very common skin disorder. Though it can affect anyone, young women with brownish skin tones are at greatest risk. It is often associated with the female hormones estrogen and progesterone and is especially common in pregnant women, women who are taking birth control pills (oral contraceptives) and women taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT) during menopause. Sun exposure is also a strong risk factor for melasma.
Freckles are flat, tanned circular spots that typically are the size of the head of a common nail. The spots are multiple and may develop randomly on the skin, especially after repeated exposure to sunlight. These are particularly common in people of fair complexion on upper-body skin areas like the cheeks, nose, arms, and upper shoulders. They may appear on people as young as age 1 or 2. Most freckles on a person's skin are usually uniform in color. On different people, freckles may vary somewhat in color -- they may be reddish, yellow, tan, light brown, brown, or black -- but they are basically slightly darker than the surrounding skin. They tend to become darker and more apparent after sun exposure and lighten in the winter months. Freckles are due to an increase in the amount of melanin and not due to an increase in the total number of melanocytes.
Monobenzone is used as a topical medicine to permanently depigment normal skin surrounding vitiliginous lesions only in patients with disseminated (greater than 50 percent of body surface area) idiopathic vitiligo.