It is called vitiligo disease when the skin is covered with white spots due to the loss of the function of melanocytes, which are the color cells of the skin. When the disease is in the visible parts of the body, it can prevent the person from socializing. However, since not every white spot is vitiligo, it is important for a specialist to make a diagnosis. Generally, it is sufficient to examine the stain with a special lamp called Wood to make the diagnosis. Sometimes, it may be necessary to separate it from the fungal disease by making a scraping of the stain and examining it under a microscope. Rarely, a small piece of the affected area (biopsy) may be taken for diagnostic purposes and examined under a microscope.
Vitiligo can be seen at varying rates from a very small spot to large areas. Sometimes the affected areas may enlarge rapidly in some individuals, while they may remain undisturbed. It may be in a limited area, only on one half of the body, or diffuse and symmetrical.
Although the most common places are sun-exposed skin areas such as hands, arms, feet, face, lips, it can also occur in the armpits, mouth and nose, or in the genital area. Hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes may also turn white early in some people with vitiligo.
In this disease, the body’s own immune cells attack melanocytes, which are color cells, and cause whitening of the skin. The hairs in this area also turn white.
The reason has not yet been fully clarified. There may be a predisposition or genetic transmission that affects some families. It is generally accepted that vitiligo is an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks its own cells. Although stress is blamed as a trigger, this issue is not fully proven.
The disease usually begins before the age of 20, and it is rare after the age of 40. It is important to perform tests for these, since sometimes thyroid hormone disorders appear together with other diseases such as diabetes and anemia.
Treatment is aimed at improving the appearance. In this respect, the treatment is planned by taking into account the conditions such as the location and prevalence of vitiligo seen in the patient. The use of cosmetic creams and permanent dyes can relieve patients. However, such solutions are temporary.
Treatment methods such as locally applied drugs and radiation are very effective in vitiligo. The goal of radiation therapy is the re-functioning of color cells. With the ultraviolet rays applied for this purpose, the color pigments in these regions are stimulated. Radiation therapy is performed in the form of PUVA cabins in diffuse vitiligo, and in the form of microphototherapy when regional.
Since the sensitivity of the body to ultraviolet rays increases in people with vitiligo, sunscreens with a high protection factor are recommended when going out in the sun.