Leucoderma or also known as Vitiligo is a skin condition in which our skin loses melanin, the pigment which basically determines the colour of our skin, eyes and hair. It occurs when the cells that produce melanin die or no longer form melanin, causing white patches of irregular shape that appear on our skin.
It is a harmful disease, as it affects the person emotionally as well as psychologically. There is a social stigma attached to the disease. It usually causes people to shun the affected individual.
The types are divided according to the area where white patches have developed. Generalised Vitiligo spreads to all the areas of the skin, whereas Segmental Vitiligo spreads only on a limited area. The most common type is Acrofacial Vitiligo , which has the presence of white patches away from the centre of the body. Focal Vitiligo spreads only on few areas of the body, whereas Non Segmental Vitiligo affects large areas of the body like mouth, around the eyes or even fingers.
The main symptoms of Leucoderma are:
- Pigment loss- which produces white patches on the skin
- Loss of colour in the tissues that line the inside of our mouth
- Loss or change in the colour of the inner layer of our eye
- Pre-mature whitening or greying of the hair, our scalp, eyelashes or beard
Though it can affect any part of our body, de-pigmentation usually develops first on the sun exposed areas of our skin like the feet, arms, face, hands and lips
There is no cure for Leucoderma, but the patches can be coloured to be matched with the rest of the skin, but generally new ones keep appearing. The parents suffering from Leucoderma increase the risk of developing the same for their children. You should consult a Dermatologist or a Cosmetic Surgeon.
Leucoderma is neither infectious nor contagious as it is only a cosmetic tissue that loses its colour due to lack of melanin production.
Medically, the exact cause of Leucoderma is yet unknown. However Leucoderma can be prevented if it is non-hereditary. Abstaining from drinks like coffee, tea, and alcoholic beverages can help prevention. Heavily spiced food and condiments are to be avoided to prevent white patches. Some other foods to be avoided denurated cereals, pearled barley, bottled and canned foods. To prevent the onset of Vitiligo, sugar and products made with white flour should also be avoided.