Vitiligo Causes & Symptoms & Treatment in Dallas, Texas
What is vitiligo?
The color of your skin, hair, and eyes is determined by a pigment called melanin. Vitiligo is a skin condition in which melanin-producing cells called melanocytes die or no longer work, causing patches of skin on the body to lose pigmentation and become lighter than the surrounding skin. The condition can be generalized, segmental, localized, or universal. Generalized vitiligo occurs on various areas throughout the body, segmental vitiligo occurs on one side or one region of the body, localized vitiligo occurs in one or a few areas of the body, and universal vitiligo impacts nearly the entire body.
Vitiligo can affect any skin type and can impact any area of the body, including the face, eyes, hair, and oral cavity. While vitiligo can occur at any age, it typically presents itself in patients before the age of 20. For some patients, the condition may stop without the need for treatment. For other patients, the condition may continue to spread throughout the body. In most cases, once the skin color is gone, it will not return to its original state naturally. However, there are treatment options, such as medications and light therapy, to help restore the appearance of the skin and delay the spreading of pigment loss.
What causes vitiligo?
Vitiligo occurs when the cells that produce melanin die or seize to produce melanin. Reasons why this may occur include:
- Having an autoimmune disease
- Internal triggers, such as stress
- External triggers, such as sunburn or exposure to certain chemicals
What are the symptoms of vitiligo?
Symptoms of vitiligo can appear anywhere on the body, but they typically appear in areas that are frequently exposed to the sun, such as the feet, arms, hands, and face.
Symptoms of vitiligo include:
- Patches of skin that appear lighter than surrounding skin
- Early greying or whitening of hair
- Color loss inside the mouth or nose
- Color loss of the retina
How is vitiligo diagnosed?
If you have symptoms of vitiligo, an experienced dermatologist can determine an appropriate diagnosis. In order to diagnose the condition, your doctor may begin by reviewing your medical history as well as your family history. Your doctor may also ask if you are under any stress or if you have experienced any events which may have triggered the condition, such as an extreme sunburn.
Along with reviewing your medical history, your doctor will perform a physical exam of the skin. Additional testing, such as a biopsy and blood test, may be recommended to help further assess the skin and identify other potential conditions that may be causing the pigment loss.
What does vitiligo treatment involve?
While there is no cure for vitiligo, treatment options are available to help restore the appearance of skin and slow down the spreading of pigmentation loss. Your doctor will determine the best treatment recommendations for your unique needs. Your doctor may recommend you try more than one type of treatment option to help determine which treatment option or treatment combinations work best with your skin. While certain treatment options may help restore skin tone, it is important to note that permanent results are not always guaranteed and continued color loss may occur.
Treatment options for vitiligo may include:
- Topical creams
- Ultraviolet B (UVB) light therapy
- Skin grafting
- Blister grafting
- Clinical trials
If you are experiencing symptoms of vitiligo that are interfering with your quality of life, a consultation with an experienced dermatologist may be the first step towards helping restore the appearance and health of your skin. At Dermatology Treatment and Research Center, our board-certified physicians hold expertise in clinical, cosmetic, and general dermatology and are ready to provide you with high-quality expert care in a friendly and compassionate atmosphere. Call 972.661.2729 or fill out the form on this page to book an appointment.