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Vitiligo is a continual and long term skin problem that produces white depigmentation patches that develop and enlarge only in certain sections of the skin. These white patches appear because the patient has very little or no skin cells - called melanocytes - which are the cells in charge of producing the skin pigmentation, called melanin, which gives the color of the skin and protects it from the sun´s UV rays.
It is impossible to predict how much of the skin can be affected. In the majority of cases, the affected areas remain affected for the rest of the person's life.
"The appearance on otherwise normal skin of nonpigmented white patches of varied sizes often symmetrically distributed and usually bordered by hyper pigmented areas; hair in the affected areas is usually white. Epidermal melanocytes are completely lost in depigmented areas by an autoimmune process."
Causes of Vitiligo
Surprisingly, the causes of vitiligo are yet to be precisely established, but most of the research so far points to the following: Autoimmune disorder - the patient's immune system becomes overactive, and destroys the melanocytes
Genetic oxidative stress imbalance
A stressful event
Harm to the skin due to a critical sunburn or cut
Exposure to certain chemicals
Vitiligo is not transmittable; people cannot catch it from each other.
Depigmentation of sections of skin and hair in 48-year-old man Less than 1% of the population is affected by the appearance of Vitiligo in their skin, meaning, it is not too common. It has no age, sex or ethnic discrimination, but studies have concluded that a larger percentage of the cases has been detected starting the age of 20.
Vitiligo signs and symptoms varies considerably from person-to-person. It is by far more perceptible in people with dark or tanned skinned. Some people may only acquire a handful of white dots which develops no further, while others develop larger white patches that join together affecting larger areas of the skin.
Types of Vitiligo
vitiligo in basically of two types which are called:
No Segmental Vitiligo
It is the most common type of vitiligo and occurs in up to 90% of the people who have this disorder.
In non-segmental vitiligo, the patches often become visible equally on both sides of the body, with some kind of symmetry. These unusual symmetrical patches most commonly appear on skin that is exposed daily to the sun, such as the face, neck, and hands, but it also appears on these other areas:
backs of the hands
Non-segmental vitiligo has sub-categories:
The most familiar pattern, it has no specific area or size when the white patches start occurring
This type of vitiligo is considered only when the appearance is mostly on the fingers or toes
The appearance of the depigmentation generally around the mucous membranes and lips
It is very rare since depigmentation has to cover most of the body
one or a few scattered white patches in a small certain areas. It is often noticeable in young children Segmental Vitiligo Segmental Vitiligo has a different form of appearance. This condition spreads more rapidly, but is considered more constant and stable than non segmental. It is definitively much less common, and it affects only about 10% of people with this condition. But unpredictably, segmental vitiligo is more noticeable in the early ages affecting about 30% of the children that have been diagnosed with vitiligo.
It is non-symmetrical and usually tends to affect dorsal roots of the spine. It is more stable, less erratic, and responds well to topical treatments. What Are The Signs and Symptoms of Vitiligo?
A symptom is felt by the patient, such as a headache dizziness or pain, and described to other people, including doctors and nurses. A sign can be spotted by everybody, including the patient, such as lighter patches of skin, a rash, or loss of hair.
The only sign of Vitiligo is the appearance of flat white spots or patches on the skin. Most of the times, the first white spot that becomes noticeable is usually on an area of the body that is exposed continuously to the sun.
At first, the vitiligo starts as a simple spot, a little paler than the rest of the skin. But gradually, as time passes, this spot will become much paler until reaching the white color.
The shape of these patches are completely irregular, and at times the edges can become a little inflamed with a slight red tone, and may sometimes result in itchiness. Other than the negative appearance and some itchiness of Vitiligo, it does not cause any discomfort, irritation, soreness or dryness in the skin.
Vitiligo is photosensitive; the patient should avoid prolonged skin exposure to direct sunlight.
To predict whether Vitiligo will spread, and by how much is particularly difficult. The spreading of the white patches to some might occur considerably in a matter of weeks, and to others it can rest without growing for months or even years.
If the first symptoms of the white patches are symetrical (non segmental vitiligo,) in other words, in the same areas of both parts of the body, the development is much slower than if the patches are in only one area of the body (segmental vitiligo). What are the treatment options for vitiligo?
There are a number of remedies that can be performed in order to decrease the visibility of Vitiligo on the affected areas of the skin.
As a rule, homoeopathy never looks at Vitiligo as a local disease. Vitiligo has been considered as a local expression of a system disturbance. As per the classical homoeopathy, we believe in constitutional prescribing. This calls for individual case study in every case of Vitiligo. There is no single specific remedy for all the cases of Vitiligo. The exact treatment is determined only on in-depth evaluation of individual case.
What we understand by the Constitutional Approach in homeopathy is nothing but analysis and evaluation of various factors affecting the human constitution to determine the disease diagnosis and the exact treatment in turn. Every case of Vitiligo calls for study of the patient’s constitution which includes various aspects of his physical aspects as well as the in-depth study of the mental sphere, such as emotions, psychosocial background, behavior and personality pattern, etc. The homeopathic remedy selected in every case after such a detail study is called the constitutional medicine, which when administered in the correct dose brings about harmony at the constitutional level, stimulating the normal pigmentation and hence induces normal skin coloration. It will be of interest to note that the homeopathy medicines are essentially oral and not in the form of creams, lotions or any local application on the skin.
Diet & Regimen:
There are a few instructions for patients regarding their diet in vitiligo especially with mention of what they should avoid during the treatment of vitiligo. Following are some of our observations based on our clinical experience of treating a large number of patients (clinical observations):
Foods that are excessively sour should be avoided. The ascorbic acid in sour foods tends to reduce melanin pigmentation. So the patients should restrict their intake of citrus foods. Non vegetarian foods are also to be avoided as they act as a foreign body to pigment cells. Flavoured drinks are to be avoided. Artificial colours used in various food preparations should also be avoided.
Usually small amounts of milk, for example in tea or coffee, do not cause any problems. Dairy products such as butter, cheese and yoghurt are also well tolerated. If milk is excluded, it should be replaced with low lactose milk or with Soya milk. This should be discussed with a dietician to ensure that the nutritional balance is maintained