Vitiligo, also known as leucoderma, is a skin disorder in which white patches appear on skin on different parts of the body. This happens because the skin cells that produce melanin, the pigment that skin its colour and protects it from sun’s UV rays, are destroyed. These cells are called melanocytes. It can affect people of any age, gender, or ethnic group. White patches of skin in any location on the body. Vitiligo is not contagious.
The exact cause of vitiligo is not known. It is believed that it is an autoimmune disorder in which the body's immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys melanin producing melanocytes within the body. Vitiligo may have a genetic component, as the condition tends to run in families. It is also possible that one or more genes may make a person more likely to get the disorder. Vitiligo is sometimes associated with other medical conditions, including thyroid dysfunction. It is not contagious, painful and does not have significant health consequences. However, it can have emotional and psychological consequences.
Current treatment options for vitiligo include medical, surgical, and other treatments. The goal of most treatments is to restore lost skin colour to the white patches of skin. Vitiligo occasionally goes away by itself, and some treatments may slow its progress. Vitiligo can also be treated with laser treatment.
The white patches on the skin due to vitiligo are photosensitive. So patients suffering from vitiligo should take precaution and avoid exposure to the direct sunlight for a prolonged period. They should also use sunscreen with high SPF.