Vitiligo can’t be cured, but it can (and should) be embraced! Here’s what you need to know about this skin condition.
The melanin in our skin is what gives it its color. When the immune system attacks these pigment cells it results in a skin condition known as vitiligo. It affects between 1% and 2% of the American population and between 0.5% and 1% of people worldwide. While it is more noticeable in those with darker skin tones, all races are equally susceptible.
A number of past and present celebrities have also been diagnosed with this condition, such as the late Michael Jackson and model Winnie Harlow. And while it might appear to many to be purely an aesthetic condition, there’s a lot more to vitiligo than patchy skin.
What is vitiligo?
Vitiligo is an autoimmune condition in which the body attacks the cells responsible for pigment production in the skin. While it can be detected earlier, the onset for most patients is in their mid-twenties and often following a trauma. For many, it also progresses and spreads over time. Commonly affected areas include:
- The hands
- The face
- The neck
- The groin
There is a genetic predisposition and it does tend to run in families.
Is there a cure for Can Vitiligo?
Vitiligo can’t be cured or completely irradicated. However, there are ways that it can be treated to diminish its appearance. Steroids – both topical and oral – are one course of action. Photodynamic therapy can also be effective in treating it, especially when combined with microneedling.
Skin affected by vitiligo is more sensitive to sun damage than skin with pigment. For this reason, it’s important that people with this condition use sunscreen daily and avoid extended periods of sun exposure.
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Other than being more photosensitive (and sometimes being accompanied by other autoimmune diseases) it’s possible to live a normal, contented life with vitiligo. As Winnie Harlow says, ‘vitiligo is just another difference, like freckles, big hair or tiny ears. Everyone has differences.’ And it’s time to start embracing them!