Vitiligo Symptoms

All diseases or conditions have symptoms. A symptom is a warning sign or indicator that the condition is presenting in your body or the body of those you love and care about. It is important to pay very close attention to the developing symptoms of any condition so as to provide an accurate account when seeking treatment. Vitiligo, like any other condition, has many symptoms, some apparent and others not clearly distinguishable. Vitiligo is a degenerative skin condition where patches of skin all over the body begin lightening over time until they are clearly seen by the naked eye as lighter in color from the natural skin coloring.

Here it is very important to note that Vitiligo is not caused by any known infection. It is also important to note that Vitiligo affects all genders. Half the people with Vitiligo develop it before their 20th year and most have developed it by their 40th birthday. Vitiligo affects people of all races and skin colors but it is most noticeable in those with darker skin shades. Stranger still, Vitiligo also affects the animal population as well.

The most common symptoms are as follows:

Initially, the first white patch makes its appearance after the skin has been exposed to the sun for long. Sun exposed areas of the body include hands, feet, arms, faces and lips. A few Vitiligo sufferers experience a lot of itching in the area exposed to the sun. These few are the exception and not the rule. Other areas not exposed to the sun that can be affected by Vitiligo are armpits, groin, rectum, navel, mouth, eyes and nostrils.

Secondly, the skin stops producing enough melanin leading to light colored patches on the skin. For some people these patches can remain the same for a long time while for others the patches can keep growing in size or adding in body surface area coverage. Sometimes these areas may have slight rash. The light colored patches may be lighter in the middle only and others may appear slightly pink rather than white in color. The edges although normally smooth, may also be rough to touch while at other times, may be inflamed with a reddish tinge or brown discoloration of the skin. Vitiligo however does not cause dryness to the skin.

Thirdly, as the flat areas all over the skin begin to lighten in appearance, they also appear of irregular shape. These patches over time continue to lighten in color until they are milky white in appearance although most maintain the smooth texture of the original skin.

Fourthly, if the patches appear asymmetrically all over the body, then their progression is not very fast. However, if the white patches appear on only one area of the skin, then their progression may be much faster.  Depending on the individual, Vitiligo appears in certain ways that can be categorized as shown;

  • In a focal pattern where Vitiligo is localized to one or only a few areas.
  • In a segmental pattern where Vitiligo develops on only one side of the body.
  • In a generalized pattern, which is the most common and appears on both sides of the body

Only in very very rare cases can Vitiligo affect the whole body. This is known as universal or complete Vitiligo. The late King of Pop, Michael Jackson, claimed to be suffering from this rare type of Vitiligo.

"Fifthly", other less common symptoms may include loss of the hairs’ natural color or graying of the scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes or any other affected area.

Sixthly, some sufferers may loose pigment inside their bodies in the mouth cavity or the retina of the eye. The areas most affected inside the body are the mucous membranes.

Seventhly, the bony areas of the body may be most affected by lighter patches. This includes the wrists, elbows, knees and ankles.

Eighthly, sometimes the Vitiligo may produce a mirror image on both sides of the body. This means that if there is a light patch in a certain area of the body on the right side then the Vitiligo can affect the same area of the body on the left side.

Ninthly, for some people it may be hereditary so it is important to check whether any of your relatives have a predisposition to Vitiligo and at what age it began to appear. It is also good to check what type of Vitiligo is common in your particular family genes.

Tenthly Vitiligo can also present itself after an injury or skin trauma to a certain part of your body. This can be likely if the skin around the injury shows loss of color for a period exceeding three months.

  • If you have a difficulty with the ability of your body to absorb vitamin B12 from the intestinal tract. This is a condition that can lead to pernicious anemia which has a direct link to Vitiligo.
  • A history of general anemia.
  • When your thyroid gland is overactive and produces more thyroid hormone than is necessary.
  • A malfunctioning adrenal gland can also lead to Vitiligo.
  • Patients complaining of inflammation of the part of eye may be diagnosed as having Vitiligo.
  • People with patches of baldness are also susceptible to Vitiligo.
  • Any other condition that affects the body’s autoimmune system.

High levels of stress in adults are also known to predispose them to Vitiligo since stress has a depressing effect on the body’s autoimmune system.

It is interesting to note that most people with Vitiligo have no other disease of the autoimmune system. It does not cause any known physical discomfort although it may cause a lot of emotional discomfort due to the lack of information by both the sufferers and their guardians.
Further more, most people with Vitiligo have no family history of this condition.

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