Leucoderma, medically known as Vitiligo is a chronic skin disorder that causes de-pigmentation of skin. It causes discolouration of parts of skin forming patches due to gradual decrease of melanin from the dermal layers or when the skin cells known as melanocytes, which are responsible for the pigmentation of skin are unable to function.
The condition, in its initial stage may often go unnoticed or can be neglected as it may start from a small patch on the skin, especially on the extremities or edges. But as time goes by, this small patch may enlarge and become big and even multiply. De-pigmentation of skin usually takes place near mouth, eyes, nostrils, fingers, nails, genitals and umbilicus.
Leucoderma is the term commonly used in Asia. It means ‘to have white skin’, whereas medically the skin disorder is known as vitiligo, and it is the term more common in the West. Well-known pop-icon Michael Jackson suffered from vitiligo.
Symptoms of leucoderma:
The various symptoms observed during leucoderma are:
- A small, white patch on the skin which may expand with time
- Premature greying of hair
- Loss of hair
- Hair on the patches become white
- Sensitivity towards cold
- The patient may often suffer from mood swings or depression
Causes of leucoderma:
According to the medical experts, the common causes of leucoderma are:
- Chronic or acute gastric diseases
- Deficiency of calcium
- Inflammatory skin conditions
- Intralesional steroid injection
- Excessive stress, tension and worry
- Impairment of hepatic or liver function (due to jaundice), worm infestation
- Wearing tight clothes
- Wearing rubber gloves
- Using stickers or tattoos on the skin
Treatment of leucoderma:
There are several treatments for leucoderma. However, none of it has been proven 100% effective.
- Skin camouflage: Make-up and cosmetic products can well be used to hide mild leucoderma. Also, try to avoid sunlight and sun-tanning of the unaffected skin or the patches may become more visible.
- De-pigmenting: Here, the pigment of the unaffected skin is removed with the help of topical drugs. This gives the skin even colour or tone, and the patches are no more visible. This treatment takes around a year.
- UVB photo-therapy: Ultraviolet B is the most common treatment for people suffering from this skin disorder. Here, the skin is exposed to the UVB light with the help of UVB lamp. This treatment is effective and cure within few weeks only if the condition is not more than three years old. Otherwise, it may take few months.
- PUVA photo-therapy: The treatment involves taking of drugs that may make your skin highly sensitive towards ultraviolet rays. Once it is successfully done, the affected area is exposed to the ultraviolet A light. However, it may damage the skin making it look sun-burned or freckled.
- Transplanting melanocytes: De-pigmenting is removing of pigment from the unaffected area. Similarly in this treatment melanocytes are transplanted to the affected area in order to level the skin tone. However, the longevity of re-pigmentation varies from person to person.