How Does Vitiligo Start And What Causes It?

Approximately 0.5% to 1% of the global population suffers from vitiligo. A few researchers even claim the numbers to be more than 1.5%. 

Vitiligo can be depressing, especially if you have brown or black skin. Also, it spreads to more visible areas like the face, lips, and hands. 

Certain effective vitiligo treatments may help you get your skin color back. However, it is not permanent!  This means you must stick to the treatments and prescribed medications. 

A Quick Look At Vitiligo 

Vitiligo isn’t contagious. However, it can gradually show patches within different body parts. Autoimmune system conditions, certain genetic factors, and environmental impacts can result in vitiligo. Vitiligo usually starts in the face, hands, forearms, and lips. Although all skin types can have this condition, brown and dark skin are the most visible to vitiligo.

Doctors may prescribe moisturizers and certain medications to counter the condition. However, none of these treatments might have a permanent solution. 

What is Vitiligo? 

Vitiligo is a chronic autoimmune condition that causes certain skin regions to lose color. Vitiligo takes place when your skin cells are destroyed, turning it milky white. 

How Does Vitiligo Start? (In Different Body Parts)

Vitiligo can start from any body part. However, the face, hands, forearms, and lips are the most common areas it affects. 

  1. Vitiligo in Face

Symptoms of vitiligo usually start with some small patches on your face. The patches are somewhat lighter in color compared to your surrounding skin. However, the spots on your face can gradually increase and affect facial areas like: 

  • Eyes 
  • Forehead
  • Cheeks 
  • Mouth

Excessive vitiligo spread can result in patches on both sides of your face, but it can also result in just one side! 

  1. Vitiligo in Hands 

Vitiligo in the hands (aka acral vitiligo) is quite commonly seen among youngsters. Just like face vitiligo, it also starts with small patches and gradually increases. 

In most cases, the spots will affect areas like: 

  • Fingers
  • Back of the hands
  • Knuckles

The triggers can be many, however, genetics and environmental factors like stress and sunburn can be the prime reasons. 

  1. Vitiligo in Feet

The initial vitiligo signs on your feet can be quite vague. However, the spots gradually become more visible when left untreated. The patches sometimes leave a permanent mark on your legs. 

Usually, the patches start from the shins, eventually spreading to your knees or ankles. One of the prime triggers of vitiligo in feet is the sudden immune system attack on the melanocytes. Moreover, factors like sunburn, stress, and even traumas can also trigger the issue. 

r/Vitiligo is a great Reddit thread to check the discussions. 

  1. Vitiligo in Forearms

The initial signs of vitiligo in the forearms are quite similar to other body parts. You are likely to see the patches from the inner or outer forearms. 

In many cases, genetic factors and autoimmune responses are the prime triggers of this spread on your forearms. If the spread gets extreme, which in most cases it does, dermatologists might go for thorough clinical examination and wood’s lamp treatment. 

As forearm vitiligo is quite visible, it can also be a cause of depression among many people. 

  1. Vitiligo in Lips

Having vitiligo in the lips can be one of the most depressive situations for anyone. The patches usually appear on both the lips and they eventually grow into bigger patches. 

If the vitiligo is due to autoimmune responses, the doctor may prescribe corticosteroids and calcineurin inhibitors to reduce the response. Micropigmentation can be recommended, depending on your condition. 

  1. Vitiligo in Black Skin

Vitiligo affects people with all skin types, but it’s quite noticeable on brown and black skin. Although the condition isn’t life-threatening, it can still be depressing due to the visibility. 

Vitiligo takes place when the melanocytes within your hair and skin cells die off, resulting in visible skin pigment. 

How to Prevent Vitiligo?

Remember, vitiligo doesn’t come with permanent cures! Sometimes, the patches go away on their own. However, when it does not, the doctors may suggest certain vitiligo treatments that can counter this skin pigmentation issue: 

  • Red light therapy 
  • Taking precautions so that you don’t get direct sun exposures 
  • Managing your autoimmune conditions
  • Daily application of moisturizer on your skin

Hear out what Dr. Janine has to say about Vitiligo prevention 

Source: Youtube

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Vitiligo Hereditary?

In many cases, vitiligo is considered to be hereditary. Even though it’s not entirely connected to genetics, it can still run in the family. Around 30% of people suffer from this condition because their family has a record of vitiligo. So, the children might not strictly be affected due to bloodline, but there are still chances. 

Can Vitiligo On The Face Be Cured?

No, there’s still no permanent cure for vitiligo on the face. Certain treatments can aid in restoring your skin color, but it will fade with time. So, to keep the skin tone intact, you may be required to regularly undergo treatments and medications. 

Where Does Vitiligo Start First?

There’s no specific area where the vitiligo might start. The first appearance of vitiligo usually starts in the hands. It then gradually spreads to other body parts like your face, lips, forearms, feet, and even the genitals. 

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