Vitiligo or leukoderma is a skin disease manifested by the progressive development of cutaneous depigmentations in the shape of patches or spots. Vitiligo may occur at any age and it has a different evolution: in some people depigmentations may stop for years. Vitiligo is not a contagious disease and it cannot be transmitted by physical touch.
Generally, it has been noticed a higher frequency in the persons suffering from auto-immune diseases: hyper and hypothyroidism, adrenocortical insufficiency, alopecia areata, pernicious anemia (B12 vitamin deficiency).
Depigmentation occurs as a result of local deterioration of the melanocytes – the melanin producing cells, a substance that influences the color of skin, hair and eyes. Vitiligo also affects the mucous membranes: retina, oral and nasal cavities, genital and rectal areas.
Stress is a factor that may cause the existing patches to extend or may cause changes in their distribution upon the body: some patches may get pigmented again and depigmentations appear in other areas. Repigmentation of certain areas is not their healing. After a certain time, the initial depimentations may appear again.
At the same time, certain area may be more widely depigmented than others and the depigmentation degree varies from person to person.
Areas of the body where depigmentations may appear:
- Sun exposed areas: hands, legs, face and upper part of the chest.
- Around the eyes, nostrils, mouth, nipples, navel and genital organs.
- Axilla and inguinal area
- Around scars caused by cuts, scratches, burns.
- Around moles.
- On the choroid – the membrane nourishing the eye globe.
- Areas of the scalp, which leads to appearance of gray strands of hair or to premature graying.
These areas may be more or less affected. However, it has been noticed that this disease has certain occurrence patterns:
- Focal: depigmentations occur merely in one area of the body (in this case, the disease stopped its evolution, but it may get generalized as a result of psychical shocks).
- Symmetrical: depigmentations are distributed as in a mirror on both sides of the body.
- Asymmetrical: depigmentations are distributed randomly on both sides of the body
- Generalized: depigmentations in multiple areas on the surface of the body.
Besides the unaesthetic character of the disease, the changes cause emotional, behavior and psychic disorders: stress, depression, anxiety, discontent with oneself, low self esteem, lack of confidence etc. Most time, the persons suffering from vitiligo are ashamed of their own body and frustrated with their disease. At the same time they become inhibited in the presence of other persons, fearing the reaction of these latter ones.
Causes and Treatment
Vitiligo is caused by the action of certain factors in a specific context. This context is created by the simultaneous occurrence of hepatic and neuroendocrine disorders that cause wrong metabolic interpretations and changes of the hormonal secretions.
However, the seriousness of this disease is little known. All the skin layers are affected, but the depigmentations and the skin functional disorders originate in the brain.
Because of the hepatic and neuroendocrine disorders, any emotional shock causes a cerebral vascular spasm. The cerebral area affected by the spasm innervates a specific area on the skin. This skin area will be affected by the diminishing of nerve endings vascularization and sensitivity. The local metabolism is greatly slowed down, which will generate a poor oxygenation as well as retaining of toxins in the affected surface.
At cellular level, the melanin receptors will be filled with its metabolic products and not with pigment as it normally happens. At this point, the vicious circle of the disease is triggered: the brain no longer receives the order to produce the necessary pigment, as the melanin receptors are already filled with metabolic products.
When the sick person suffers another emotional shocks the cerebral hypoxic area grows larger. At skin level, this process is manifested by the widening or the accentuation of the depigmented patches.
Vitiligo is treated by acupuncture and apiphytotherapy. The treatment consists of several stages which vary as duration, depending on the patient’s response to treatment. In the first place the liver functions and the balance of the neuroendocrine system must be restored. At the same time, the ischemic brain areas are reactivated; the connections between them and the depigmented skin patches are recovered by restoring the normal functions of the nerve endings.
The patient will have to strictly follow the physician’s advice and treatment, because any deviation from the treatment scheme may slow down or stop the healing process.