Vitiligo is associated with other autoimmune illnesses, such as Addison’s disease, thyroid disease and pernicious anaemia. This autoimmune condition is precisely the common link between them all.
Despite there being no medical confirmation, specialists believe that the destruction of melanocytes associated with vitiligo is caused by an immunity problem that makes the cells responsible for our defences attack and eliminate melanocytes – the cells in charge of pigmentation.
The same occurs with thyroids, but instead of attacking the melanocytes, they attack the endocrine gland. This, however, does not mean that thyroids causes vitiligo, rather that both illnesses co-exist at the same time because the mechanism that causes them is similar.
Given that the risk of suffering from any kind of thyroid alteration increases with age, the risk of having some kind of thyroid alteration is greater in older patients with vitiligo.
Likewise, the studies undertaken to date also indicate that the percentage of total body surface affected by vitiligo is significantly greater in patients with thyroid pathology, proving more prominent among women than among men. Patients with thyroid disease also have a greater predisposition to de-pigmentation in joint areas, hands and feet.
Consequentially, specialists responsible for treating people affected by vitiligo should be aware of other possible autoimmune illnesses, and if there are associated symptoms they should carry out an analysis to check the correct functioning of the thyroid.