Vitiligo is a disease in which melanocytes, the specialised cells that help create melanin (the pigment that gives your skin its colour), are destroyed in certain areas. Thus, the main symptom of vitiligo is the formation of depigmented (white) patches of skin in any location on the body.
What are the causes of vitiligo?
The cause of vitiligo is still something doctors are trying to understand but it’s thought to be an autoimmune condition, where the body's defences turn on their own cells instead of attacking invading germs. Although vitiligo affects all races equally, it's more noticeable in dark-skinned people.
It can affect both men and woman and usually develops early in life, between ages 10 and 33, almost always showing up before age 40. You’re more likely to get it if someone in your family has it or if people in your family get grey hair prematurely. Autoimmune diseases, such as autoimmune thyroid disease (Hashimoto's thyroiditis) or type 1 diabetes, can also raise your odds.
Those with vitiligo will often lose pigment quickly on several areas of their skin. After the white patches appear, they may stay the same for a while, but might get bigger later on. You may have cycles of pigment loss and stability.
Vitiligo commonly affects body folds (such as armpits), places that have been injured in the past, areas exposed to sun and around moles or body openings. It can also affect eyelids and hair. Once the white patches have developed, it’s rare for the pigment to return.
Diagnosis and treatment:
At Health Renewal we can make a diagnosis of vitiligo by looking at your skin during a physical examination. There's no known way to prevent or cure the condition. But you can improve the appearance of affected skin with cosmetics and corticosteroid creams.
Another form of treatment is Pigmerise™, a concentrated topical treatment made using a mix of natural actives including piperine, a black pepper alkaloid. Studies have shown that it can stimulate the growth of melanocytes (the specialized cell that produces melanin) as well as dendrites (the branches that stem from the melanocytes and help them transfer melanin in your skin).
Pigmerise™ is suitable for all skin types including those suffering from dermatitis or acne and can be used around the eye area. As it’s free of alcohol its suitable for sensitive skin as well as skin subjected to dermatological or surgical procedures.