What is vitiligo?

 

Vitiligo is a skin condition characterised by the presence of white patches. This disease, of unknown origin, causes the destruction of melanocytes, responsible for melanin production and, therefore, the skin pigmentation.

Vitiligo can affect any part of the body, but the areas that are most affected are usually the face, genitals, hands and wrists.

There are different theories about the origin of the disease. It is believed to be an autoimmune disease in which the body destroys its own melanocytes because they are considered foreign bodies. However, it is also stated that in vitiligo some predisposing factors (genetic – 30% of cases according to specialists) and some triggering factors (environmental) are involved. Many patients attribute their vitiligo to physical trauma, emotional stress or other illnesses.

Types of vitiligo

Type A

Type A or segmental vitiligo presents a symmetrical distribution. It is three times more prevalent than type B and is characterised by:

  • Unconfined patches
  • Appearance at any age
  • Earlier age of onset in those with a family history of vitiligo (average 22 vs 42 years of age)
  • The appearance of new patches throughout life

Type B

Type B or non-segmental vitiligo is less common, originates mainly in childhood and youth and is characterised by:

  • Patches confined to a defined dermatome
  • Evolution: static
  • The emergence of new patches tends to cease after one year
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