Leucoderma: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

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We often come across people having white blotches on their skin. This is due to the de-pigmentation of the skin caused by the destruction of melanocytes in the body. It is a long term rare skin condition that can affect any age group, ethnicity, or gender.

In this article:

What is Vitiligo (leucoderma)?
Causes of Vitiligo (Leucoderma)
Symptoms of Leucoderma
Types of Vitiligo (Leucoderma)
Complications Related to Vitiligo (Leucoderma)
Diagnosis of Vitiligo (Leucoderma)
Treatment of Vitiligo (Leucoderma)
Therapies
Surgery

All You Need to Know about Vitiligo (Leucoderma)

What is Vitiligo (leucoderma)?

Leucoderma also called vitiligo that causes loss of pigmentation in skin which in turn leads to white blotches or patches. It can affect any part of the body including the scalp and hair. Initially, these white patches are small and are localized in one area. With the passing of time, these patches can get enlarged and spread to other parts of the body. Leucoderma is a photo-sensitive skin condition where the areas that are affected are more sensitive to sunlight.

leucoderma

Causes of Vitiligo (Leucoderma)

The exact cause of vitiligo is still unknown and there is a lot of research happening in the background of this disease. Vitiligo or leucoderma may be an autoimmune disease in which the immune system of the body destroys its own melanocytes that form pigmentation on the skin. Some other factors that may contribute are

  • Stressful events
  • Neural degeneration
  • Oxidative stress imbalance due to genetic reasons
  • Sunburn
  • Exposure to harmful chemicals
  • Viral infections
  • Heredity

Symptoms of Leucoderma

Discoloration and white patches on the skin are the main and common symptoms observed in leucoderma. These patches occur mostly in areas that are exposed to the skin, however, the other areas of the body that are affected are

  • Navel
  • Armpits
  • Groin
  • Rectal areas
  • Eyes and nostrils
  • Hair

Types of Vitiligo (Leucoderma)

There are mainly 2 types of vitiligo which are:

Non-Segmental Vitiligo

In this type of vitiligo you can observe that the white patches are symmetrical. The patches appear equally on all sides of the body which are exposed to skin. They generally appear on the hands, neck, face, mouth, elbows, knees, armpits, and eyes.

Segmental Vitiligo

It is a non-symmetrical type of vitiligo that spreads erratically and rapidly in different parts of the body. It is rare and occurs only in 10 percent of the people. It occurs in areas of the skin that are attached to the nerves.

Complications Related to Vitiligo (Leucoderma)

Leucoderma is usually harmless and does not spread. It also does not develop into any other disease. However, those suffering from this condition can experience symptoms like

  • Changes to vision
  • Affect tear production
  • Sunburn
  • Hearing loss

Diagnosis of Vitiligo (Leucoderma)

If there are white patches on the skin, it is important to get tested and confirm if you are suffering from vitiligo. The doctor will inquire about medical history and try to rule out other medical skin-related conditions like psoriasis and dermatitis. The doctor will use ultraviolet light on the affected areas to determine if its vitiligo. Additionally, a small biopsy of the affected area and blood samples are taken to look for autoimmune disorders.

Treatment of Vitiligo (Leucoderma)

No drug or therapy can stop the process of vitiligo; however, they can restore the lost color of the skin tone. Some of the treatment options include

Medications

  • Corticosteroid creams are used on the affected parts of the skin to restore skin color. However, prolonged usage of it can cause skin cancer or lines on the skin.
  • Ointments containing pimecrolimus or tacrolimus can help fight depigmentation on the face and neck

Therapies

Light and Psoralen Therapy

Psoralen is plant-derived substance which along with light therapy helps restore color on the skin. Psoralen is either applied as a cream on the affected skin or taken orally in the form of a capsule. After taking psoralen, the affected skin is exposed to ultraviolet light. The entire treatment can last for a duration of about 6 to 12 months.

Removing Remaining Color

If the vitiligo is spreading in all areas of the body and other treatments are not working, this approach can be used. This procedure involves the use of a depigmenting agent that lightens the unaffected areas of the skin so that it blends along with the white patches thereby maintaining an even tone. However, this procedure can make the person extremely sensitive to light.

Surgery

If light therapy and medications don’t work, surgery can be considered a last option for leucoderma. Surgery can also be used as a combination along with other therapies. The types of surgery include

Skin Grafting

This procedure involves removing the normal pigmented parts of the skin and attaching them onto depigmented affected areas of the skin.

Tattooing

In this technique, the doctor employs the use of a special instrument to implant pigments into the affected skin. It is particularly effective in those having darker complexions.

Leucoderma is a life-long condition. Also, there is no method to reverse the process, the treatments mentioned above and reduce the damage to a huge extent. Visiting a doctor regularly and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help manage vitiligo without any further complications.

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5362109/

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