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Leucoderma / Vitiligo - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

 

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Vitiligo or Leucoderma is an acquired depigmentation of the skin, which is extremely common with a worldwide prevalence. Lecucoderma, also known as vitiligo, is a distressing skin condition. The word Lecucoderma means ‘ white skin’. There is a gradual loss of pigment melanin from the skin layers which results in white patches. These patches look ugly, especially in persons with dark complexions. Lecucoderma can occur at any age in either in normal skin.

Leucoderma / Vitiligo conditions has considerable psycho-social importance. Genetic redisposition is present. No age is exempt. The disease frequently startsin children and young adults. Leucoderma is a fairly common disorder and it affects one per cent or more of the world’s population. The incidence is a little higher in India. Lecucoderma is, however, more common in women than men. The most affected areas are the hands, the neck, the back and the wrist in that order.

Leucoderma, also known as vitiligo, is a distressing skin condition. The word literally means white skin. There is a gradual loss of pigment melanin from the skin layer which results in white patches. These patches look ugly, especially in persons with a dark complexion. The attraction in colour is the reason for huge sales of fairness creams. But the whiteness offered by skin disease - leucoderma - is often depressing for all the sufferers.  As such it is hardly a disease of medical significance but more of a social stigma attached to it because of cosmetic reasons. The condition does not cause any organic harm. It , however, brings about great psychological tension to the patient who is more embarassed than the victim of any pain or discomfort. Patches can be caused because of a number of reasons, the most common among them being worms and calcium deficiency. These patches gradually increase in size & cause lot of psychological stress in the patient. It is an auto-immune condition and may have a genetic predisposition.

This disease is caused neither by any germs, nor is it due to bad blood. It is considered to be neither infectious nor contagious. It is present in the basal layer of the epidermis and the first layer of the dermis, i.e. melanin is present in two layers. It is, however, more common in women than men. The most affected areas are the hands, the neck, the back and the wrist in that order. Leucoderma does not cause any health problems - it is not contagious or dangerous at all. It is only a cosmetic problem. Moreover, it is just as important to remember that every white patch is not leucoderma. Patches can be caused because of a number of reasons, the most common among them being worms and calcium deficiency. Treatment for hyperpigmentation can vary, but it can help reduce the depigmentation is some cases. In majority of the cases, medical therapy only achieves stabilization of the vitiligo patch but fails to cause repigmentation. If a patient of leucoderma is found to be suffering from digestive disorders, they should be treated first. When leucoderma occurs without any preceding disease it is called vitiligo . Sometimes it follows burns and injuries.

Causes of Leucoderma

The comman causes of Leucoderma include the following:

  • The main causes of leucoderma are excessive mental worry.
  • Chronic or acute gastric disorder.
  • Impaired hepatic function such as jaundice, worms or other parasites in the alimentary canal.
  • Other precipitating factors have been identified as due to pressure of tight clothes or certain occupational hazards such as wearing certain rubber hand gloves Use of Bindi etc.
  • It is neurogenic in origin, a humeral substance originating from the nerve endings destroying the melanocytes.
  • Ayurveda maintains that leucoderma is caused by some morbidity of the liver which results in a deficiency of pitta.
  • Heredity is also a well-recognized causative factor.

Symptoms of Leucoderma

Some sign and symptoms related to Leucoderma are as follows:

  • The problems usually start with a small white spot, which later develops into patches.
  • Alopecia (Loss of hair).
  • Premature graying of hair.
  • The whiteness usually starts as a small discoloured white or pale or brown spot which spreads and becomes whiter day by day and becomes milky white in the course of time.
  • General weakness and lassitude.
  • Sensitivity to cold.
  • Hair on the spot will also become white.
  • In some cases, most of the skin of the body may be covered with white patches.

Treatment of Leucoderma

Here is list of the methods for treating Leucoderma:

  • In nature cure, the treatment of leudoderma consists of adoption of constitutional measures to cleanse the system of accumulated toxins.
  • Psoralen Photochemotherapy.
  • As far as possible avoid consuming citrus fruits, tamarind, fish, lobsters, crabs and prawns.
  • Applying Coloured Dyes, Silver Nitrate etc . Latest being permanent Colouring.
  • Topical Psoralen Photochemotherapy.
  • Autologous Melanocyte Transplants.
  • Allopathy - Commonest drug used is Psoralen , Melanocyl etc to be use locally followed by sun exposure.
  • In few cases oral Antioxidants are also being used.