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Vitiligo is a skin condition in which areas of the skin become white because of the loss of normal pigmentation. The skin itself does not become itchy or sore in anyway. Rather, it feels completely normal. Common areas for vitiligo to appear include around body openings such as the eyes and nose, within body folds such as under the arms and in the groin as well as the hands and face. Even hair can be effected by vitiligo and completely lose its colour.
Prevalence And Risk Factors
Vitiligo occurs in approximately 1% of the population and is not uncommonly seen at the London Dermatology Clinic. While it can start at nearly any age at all, about half of the cases begin before the patient is 20 years of age. It is not contagious and there is no medical evidence of a link with a patient’s diet. It affects men and women of every race equally although its appearance is more noticeable in people with darker complexions or tanned skin. This skin condition does have a hereditary link although only 20% of cases have a family history. Those who have thyroid disease and other autoimmune conditions may be at an increased risk of developing vitiligo.
The London Dermatology Clinic notes that this condition is considered to be an autoimmune condition. The immune system rejects the melanocyte cells in skin that contain the melanin pigment. When the melanocytes are no longer present, the white patches seen in vitiligo occur. The symmetrical nature of many of the patches seen in vitiligo is not entirely understood although the symmetry of patches is often seen at the skin clinic.
While there are no known cures for vitiligo, the London Dermatology Clinic offers a range of treatment options that can help. The dermatologist may prescribe topical corticosteroids, anti-inflammatory creams, vitamin D analogues and other ointments to help restore the pigment in some patients. The London Dermatology Clinic recommends that all sufferers wear sunscreen as the affected areas can sunburn very easily. Other treatments that may be recommended by the London Dermatology Clinic depending on individual circumstances include phototherapy, surgical treatment, removing remaining pigmentation in unaffected skin areas, psychological treatments and even cosmetic camouflage. Whilst we do not provide phototherapy on-site we enjoy a referral link with a local phototherapy centre and we will pay 50% towards the cost of our patients initial session.
Vitiligo can be a bothersome skin condition for sufferers that can affect self-confidence, self-esteem and self-image. Although there are no physical concerns associated with the condition, the London Dermatology Clinic recognizes the discomfort this condition can cause to a person psychologically and offers a range of treatments to help those affected.
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