Vitiligo is commonly known as ‘safed dag’ or ‘Kod’ in India. There are a lot of misconceptions about this disease in our country. It is a disease in which white patches appear on skin due to loss of color producing cells called melanocytes from the skin. The exact cause of Vitiligo is not known. Vitiligo is supposed to be an autoimmune disease with underlying genetic predisposition. It affects about 1% of population and family history is seen in about 20% of the cases. It is not transmitted by contact. It is often confused with Leprosy or ‘Kusht Rog’ which is an infectious disease and this has lead to a lot of stigma associated with Vitiligo.
There is no relation with diet. Apart from change in color of skin and hair there is no defect in the body and the afflicted person can do all the normal activities. Also all white patches on skin are not Vitiligo. A dermatologist can help in differentiating between various types of white patches. 15% may also have other auto immune disease such as thyroid disease, rheumatoid diseases. Protecting the vitiligenous skin against sun exposure is important and can be achieved by using sunscreens and wearing full sleeved clothes Treatment of Vitiligo is most successful when started at early stage. There are various modalities available- Medical management by creams, and various immunomodulator drugs.
- * UV therapy- Excimer, NBUVB, PUVA etc
- * Surgery- in stable cases
- * Tattoo or Camouflage
Treatment of vitiligo requires a lot of patience as it takes months to years to get the desired results.