Vitiligo Skin Conditions

Vitiligo is a skin conditions that causes white patches to appear on the skin. These white patches have jagged edges. The skin with Vitiligo is normally the same in texture as the Vitiligo skin. Vitiligo affects both men and women equally and this includes children. Animals are also affected by Vitiligo. The onset of Vitiligo is usually early in life and the main sufferers are between the ages of 10 and 40. When Vitiligo begins it is difficult to know how it will spread or the speed at which it will progress. Vitiligo is not known to be infectious or contagious.

Vitiligo is known to be caused by the body attacking its own pigment producing hormones thus rendering them defective. This is what leads to the loss of skin color in particular areas of the skin.

There are skin conditions that resemble Vitiligo and have similar symptoms and some of them include;

  • Albinism – this is a congenital skin condition that is characterized by complete or partial loss of pigment in the skin, hair and eyes due to the total absence or a defect in the hormones that produce melanin.  Albinism is a hereditary condition and its onset comes from a recessive gene alleles. This condition affects all animals with backbones including humans. A person with totally white skin is called an albino whereas a human with white skin patches is described as albinoid. People with albinism normally have vision abnormalities like photophobia, nystagmus and stigmatism.  This is because albinism victims have no pigment inside their eyes. The white skin on a person with albinism is very susceptible to sunburns and skin cancer. Albinos are normally cautioned to be completely covered when going out into the sun.
  • Piebaldism – this is also a very rare autosomal dominant skin disorder that affects the skin cells that produce melanin. Usually it is characterized by a white colored forelock, scattered white patches of skin and a triangular shaped white skin patch on the forehead of the victim. Unlike albinism Piebaldism victims do not have vision problems because their eyes have the normal pigmentation.
  • Progressive macular hypomelanosis – this is a rather common skin disorder that is seen on young women of darker pigments. It is common in the areas with tropical climate.
  • Pityriasis Alba – this is another common skin disorder common among young children. It appears as dry, fine scaly pale skin patches on the face. It does not usually spread and can be treated with the use of a good moisturizer on the face. Many times these light skinned patches are not totally white in color because they have small amounts of pigment in them.
  • Tuberculoid leprosy – this condition is characterized by solitary white skin patches that are distributed asymmetrically on the body.  These white patches are usually on the face, lateral aspects of the extremities and the buttocks. They are normally few in number. These white patches are also slightly or well infiltrated. They appear white or reddish in color. The margins of these white patches are well defined and sometimes raised. On the centre of these white patches, healing can be seen but they appear dry and rough. There is no sensitivity at all on the white patches. They can also be small or large in size and they are usually warmer than the normal skin because they have lost the ability to sweat. Sometimes any hair present may be partially or totally lost.
  • Post inflammatory hypopigmentation – is a poorly defined whitening of the skin which is irregular in outline. The surface appears normal but scales may be present also. This loss of pigment may follow a skin inflammation. It can be clearly seen in victims with darker skin.
  • Discoid lupus – is a chronic skin condition consisting of sores with inflammation and scarring. These can be seen on the face, ears and scalp and sometimes on other parts of the body. These skin lesions develop as red inflamed patches with a scaly and crusty appearance. The center part of these patches can appear lighter in color and the edges darker than the normal skin. This skin condition can affect adults as well as children and can also be localized or generalized in spread.
  • Hypopigmented mycosis fungoides – is a condition that greatly resembles Vitiligo in appearance.  Its progression is slow from the onset and it has a long latent period. The main victims are dark skinned or Asian. It was first discovered in 1973 and so far there have been 106 reported cases. This condition is more likely to affect younger people. It responds well to PUVA and UVB treatment methods but it recurs quite frequently.
  • Nevus depigmentosus – or nevus achromicus is a congenital nonprogressive hypopigmented macule or patch that is stable in its relative size and distribution throughout life. It can affect someone at any age and about 19% of children born have this skin condition. It is fairly stable. It is often confused with localized albinism.  The affected skin patches have a tendency to sunburn so victims are encouraged to use sun block when outdoors.  The sun block should be applied to the entire skin surface to make the skin look more even in color when tanned by the sun. The affected skin patches cannot be pigmented so victims are encouraged to use cosmetics or if it is small in size, to have it removed.
  • Nummular eczema – is a skin condition that creates coin sized patches on the legs, arms or chest. It is prevalent in adults. It is normally confused with atopic dermatitis and allergic contact dermatitis. In a few cases it can appear like an allergic reaction to a fungal infection like athlete’s foot.
  • Tinea Versicolor – is also called Dermatomycosis furfuracea, Pityriasis Versicolor or Tinea flava. It is characterized by rash on the trunk and proximal extremities. The real cause of this condition is still unknown. It is known to have its onset from yeast present on the human skin that is activated in warm humid conditions. This condition was first identified in 1846.
  • Idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis- is also called Leukopathia symmetrica progressive. It is a very common skin disorder that affects women more than men. It appears as white skin patches on the skin of the shins and forearms. Exposure to the sun has been known to be the main catalyst.
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