You may have recently noticed some lighter patches on your skin and you wonder what this is. Despite all effort at treating this, it keeps expanding. You believe you have a good personal hygiene, so the cause of this seems untraceable to anything you are aware of. This is likely to be vitiligo.
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What is vitiligo?
Melanin is a pigment that gives the skin its color. When melanin is lacking in some part of the skin, it loses its color. Pale or lighter patches of skin appear. This is called vitiligo. This can coalesce to form a very large patch of pale skin. It usually occur on the face, hands and neck. It can sometimes affects part of the hair, inside of the mouth, eyes, genitals and armpits.
These affected areas are prone to sunburn therefore extra care should be taken when in the sun. Vitiligo is not contagious, it does not have anything to do with personal hygiene and it is not life threatening. It does not cause discomfort to the skin although it can be itchy occasionally.
What causes vitiligo?
The cause of this is unknown although some factors have been linked to it. These include:
- People with a family member who has vitiligo may be at risk.
- If you have had injury on a part of your skin, you may be at risk.
- If you have had some disease condition in which the body destroys part of itself, you are at risk.
Effect of vitiligo on mental health
Although vitilligo may not have much effect on physical health, its impact on mental health cannot be overemphasized. Accepting to live with vitiligo can impose a lot of stress psychologically to those living with it. They may develop low self-esteem, some may lose their confidence and it may tilt some to depression.
You need to know that these lighter patches of skin are usually permanent. Going for treatment as soon as it is noticed is advisable as it reduces the appearance but it does not stop it from spreading. You may also need psychotherapy to prevent depression and other mental health issues as this will help you learn to live with it.
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