|1.What is vitiligo?
Vitiligo is a chronic skin disease that causes loss of melanocytes which are pigment producing cells, resulting in irregular pale or white patches of skin. The cellular and molecular mechanisms leading to the destruction of melanocytes in this disorder have not yet been detected. Vitiligo affects approximately 0.5 to 1 percent of the population. Individuals of all ethnic origins and both sexes can be affected; however, it is much more noticeable on darker skin.
Common areas of the skin losing pigment are the face, lips, hands, arms, legs, and genital areas. Patches of the epidermis affected by vitiligo often occur symmetrically across both sides on the body. Seldom, small areas of the body may repigment as they are recolonised by melanocytes.
There are at least three theories about the principal cause of vitiligo:
- Nerve endings in the skin release a chemical that is toxic to the melanocytes
- Melanocytes simply self-destruct
- It is a type of autoimmune disease in which the immune system targets the body's own cells and tissues.