What are the primary causes of vitiligo?
The precise causes of vitiligo are not known. The skin disease arises due to the death or impairment of melanocytes, the pigment-producing cells of the body. Melanocytes may die or fail to produce melanin, the pigment that provides color to our skin. Consequently, white patches appear on the skin in the affected body parts. Other than loss of skin color in marked patches, you will notice other symptoms, such as premature graying or whitening of the hair on the scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes or beard. What causes melanocytes to die or malfunction remains unknown. However, a few theories exist about the underlying factors that trigger vitiligo: • Autoimmune Condition: In these conditions, the immune system attacks body's own tissues and cells. Vitiligo is also associated with other autoimmune conditions, such as thyroid disorders, suggesting common mechanisms at work. • Hereditary Reasons: As many as 30% cases of vitiligo have a genetic origin. Genes can influence the immune response of our body and lead to emergence of vitiligo. • Buildup of Toxic Radicals: Research suggests that toxic radicals can accumulate in our body and destroy melanocytes. This causes the white patches to appear on the skin. • Nervous Secretions: Evidence suggests that toxic chemicals released from nerve endings in certain body parts can destroy melanocytes. This phenomenon, in turn, triggers vitiligo.