Vitiligo Treatment in Santa Barbara, CA
Vitiligo is a condition that causes the skin to lose pigmentation. Areas of discoloration may grow over time. If the condition has affected a part of the body that has hair, the hair in this area may also lose pigmentation.
Vitiligo in and of itself is not painful or uncomfortable. However, skin that has lost pigmentation may be more likely to experience sunburn or light sensitivity. Individuals with vitiligo may also experience eye problems or autoimmune disorders. While there is no cure for vitiligo, cosmetic therapies exist to help individuals manage this condition.
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Sylvia Udokoro Nwakanma, DNP, FNP-C, PMHNP-BC, APRN
- Family medicine
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Vitiligo is a condition that causes the skin to lose pigmentation. Areas of discoloration may grow over time. If the condition has affected a part of the body that has hair, the hair in this area may also lose pigmentation. Vitiligo usually starts on the hands, arms, feet, and face, or the tissue that lines the inside of your mouth and nose.
Vitiligo occurs when pigment-producing cells - called melanocytes - stop producing melanin (the pigment that gives skin and hair its color). When these cells stop working or die, the skin and hair in that area begin to turn white.
The exact cause of vitiligo is unknown, although some theories suggest that it may be related to:
- An autoimmune disorder mistakenly attacks melanocytes, killing them and discoloring skin.
- Vitiligo is a genetic condition that runs in families. About 30% of individuals diagnosed with vitiligo have a family history of the condition.
- Exposure to certain harsh chemicals or severe emotional stress may cause melanocytes to self-destruct.
There are various forms of vitiligo that affect different parts of the body. The different types of the condition are detailed below:
- Generalized vitiligo: The most common form of the condition, generalized vitiligo causes small patches - or macules - of discoloration on various parts of the body. These patches usually occur in the same area on either side of the body; for instance, you may have symmetrical macules of discoloration on either hand.
- Segmental vitiligo: Discoloration appears only on one side or area of the body.
- Focal vitiligo: A small patch of discoloration occurs in a single area of the body and does not spread.
- Mucosal vitiligo: Discoloration appears in the mucous membrane (tissue lining) of the mouth and nose.
- Universal vitiligo: Rarer than the other forms, universal vitiligo occurs when 80% or more of the body’s skin has become discolored.
Vitiligo in and of itself is not painful or uncomfortable. However, skin that has lost pigmentation may be more likely to experience sunburn or light sensitivity. Individuals with vitiligo may also experience eye problems or autoimmune disorders.
Vitiligo affects about 1% of the world’s population. Discoloration usually begins to occur in childhood or young adulthood and progresses throughout life. There is no cure for vitiligo, although cosmetic therapies exist to restore or eliminate pigmentation, to create an even skin tone.
There is no cure for vitiligo. Instead, therapies for the condition revolve around evening skin tone. During your appointment, talk to your health care provider about the treatment plan that’s right for you.