In vitiligo there is lack of pigment, known as ‘white spots’ (maculas). About 1-2% of the population suffers from vitiligo. Most often, the first white spots appear between 10 and 30 years old, but children can also suffer from vitiligo.
The cause of this disease is unknown. Genetic predisposition may play a role in development of vitiligo, but most often neither parents nor children of people with vitiligo have any symptoms of this disease.
As a result of the destruction of cells responsible for the production of melanin, white maculas are formed. Destruction of melanocytes, which produce the melanin, occurs immunologically. In vitiligo, the immune system mistakenly recognizes melanocytes in the skin as harmful to the body and gradually destroys them. In some people, the skin may rebuild melanocytes in those depigmented areas after proper treatment.
The manifestation of vitiligo depends on the severity of the disease. It may manifest itself only in the transient occurrence of one or more spots on the skin, while in extreme cases even discoloration of the whole skin may occur.
Most often white spots are formed on the face, neck, forearms, wrists and hands, around the armpits and genitals. Lesions can also occur within the scalp. Discoloration may also occur in the hair (white-gray strands), eyebrows and eyebrows.
Vitiligo begins with the appearance of small lesions of discolored skin, which are gradually enlarged. White spots are more sensitive to solar ultraviolet radiation and are easier to burn. But this does not mean that people suffering from vitiligo should completely give up contact with the sun. On the contrary, a small and careful exposure to the sun could support the treatment. Ultraviolet (UVA) lamps are even used to treat vitiligo.
Other methods of treatment of vitiligo include creams and ointments with immunomodulatory effects, and in some cases, appropriate oral medications are used. In any case, the clinical decision making for the treatment depends on a detailed analysis of the course of this disease, the severity of changes and the results of laboratory tests.
In our office, patients with vitiligo are primarily treated by Prof. Lidia Rudnicka and Dr. Małgorzata Łukomska.