Vitiligo: When the Immune System Attacks & Causes Skin Discoloration

Vitiligo: When the Immune System Attacks & Causes Skin Discoloration


Vitiligo is a condition where the immune system
attacks the skin. Part of the function of your skin is to give
yourself nice, even coloration. The cells that do that are called melanocytes. In vitiligo, the immune system specifically
targets the melanocytes, and if the melanocytes are destroyed, they do not create pigment
in your skin. So as a result, you may see uneven coloration,
even salt and pepper-like coloration, and in some cases, complete destruction of all
color of the skin. Vitiligo can look differently in different
patients. Generally, patients of very fair skin color
may not even realize that their skin isn’t making pigment. It can be very much significant in patients
of darker skin color. Whenever you see a change in discoloration
of your skin, or in the tone, texture, or even whether your skin itches or not, it may
be early symptoms of vitiligo and care should be sought. Vitiligo is, again, an autoimmune disease. A disease where your own immune system targets
the cells that create pigment in your skin. So generally, the treatments include suppressing
your immune system. Sometimes we can do that locally, meaning
in just one spot with the use of a cream. Sometimes, and in severe cases, when more
than just one local area is involved, we may need to use more systemic medications. And interestingly, even light treatments for
some patients.

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