DERMATOLOGY > VITILIGO UNIT
What is vitiligo?
Vitiligo is a skin disease in which there is a loss of colour (pigment) in certain areas of the skin that causes the appearance of irregular white patches.
Causes of vitiligo
Vitiligo appears to occur when immune cells destroy skin cells that produce melanin (melanocytes). It is believed that this destruction is due to an immune problem, but the cause is unknown. Vitiligo may appear at any age. A genetic influence appears evident since it has been detected that between 30 and 40% cases have affected relatives. The general consensus of medical corporations and colleges is that vitiligo is associated with other autoimmune diseases: Addison’s disease, hypothyroidism, and pernicious anaemia.
Symptoms of vitiligo
Symmetrical depigmented areas or white spots with irregular but well-defined borders often appear on the skin. Sometimes there are small dark spots within the lighter area.
It is usually located on exposed areas such as the face and hands and also in other areas such as joints and around the mouth, eyes, nose, navel, and genital area.
Vitiligo is more noticeable in people with dark skin due to the contrast between white patches and dark skin. It is a condition that causes many dermoaesthetic consultations.
Diagnosis of vitiligo
The doctor may use a Wood lamp to examine the skin and confirm the diagnosis. This is a hand-held ultraviolet light that makes skin areas with less pigment stand out in a bright white colour.
The doctor may also order a biopsy to rule out other possible causes of pigmentation loss and blood tests to check hormone and vitamin B12 levels.
Vitiligo is a benign disease without significant health consequences. However, since it affects the dermoaesthetics of patients, the psychological impact and the effect it can have on relationships should not be neglected. It has no cure and often worsens over time, but any case can improve if the appropriate treatments are applied.
Treatments for vitiligo
Vitiligo is difficult to treat, and within the numerous options there are the following:
Medical treatments for vitiligo:
- Medications that are applied directly to the skin such as steroid creams.
- Orally administered medications
- A treatment that combines the use of medications and ultraviolet A (PUVA therapy).
- Treatment with Ratok equipment, consisting of selective micro-photo-irradiation with high UVB-content rays that stimulates the repigmentation of vitiligo spots. At a dermoaesthetic centre like Dr. Serrano Clinic, we have all of these materials.
Surgical treatments for vitiligo
- Skin grafts of the patient’s tissue. The doctor removes the skin from one area of the body and transplants it to the affected area.
Other treatments for vitiligo
- Cosmetics to cover the white spots
- Phototherapy, a procedure in which the skin is carefully exposed to ultraviolet light.
- Topically applied medications:
- Corticosteroid creams
- Immunosuppressive creams
Depigmented skin is at increased risk when exposed to the sun. Be sure to apply a broad spectrum (UVA and UVB) sunscreen with a high protection factor.
Diagnosis and treatment of vitiligo in Valencia
• Dr. Gabriel Serrano Sanmiguel