Which body parts most commonly develop vitiligo patches?
Vitiligo is an acquired condition of the skin, causing pigment loss, resulting in the development of white patches. Any of the body parts can get afflicted with this skin disorder. The most commonly affected parts include face, lips, neck, arms, hands and feet, skinfolds (knees, elbows, groin), and skin around the nostrils, eyes, belly button and genitals. The condition occurs when pigment-producing cells of the body, melanocytes, get damaged or stop producing melanin. Deficiency of melanin in the affected areas causes skin discoloration. However, as melanin provides color not only to our skin, but also the hair, vitiligo can affect hair as well causing greying and whitening. Other body parts affected by vitiligo include the scalp, the inside of the mouth and mucous membranes. Initially, the depigmentation may occur on the face, near the eyes or on the neck, hands, arms, elbows, armpits, knees or genitals. But as vitiligo is a chronic disease, the white patches may gradually spread, covering larger areas of the skin or the entire skin surface of your body. Vitiligo-related skin discoloration usually manifests in the below mentioned patterns: • Focal Vitiligo: It is characterized by a single or some of your body areas developing the white patches. • Segmental Vitiligo: This type of vitiligo causes only one part/segment or side of your body to lose its color. • Acrofacial Vitiligo : This type affects the acral areas over the hands and feet, and the face. • Generalized Vitiligo: When a person reports depigmentation in multiple body parts, it is a case of non-segmental or generalized vitiligo. White patches of skin may be observed all over the body, particularly on the face, scalp, neck and around the mouth and genitals. In this type of vitiligo, the discolored blotches spread on the corresponding body parts (on the other side of the body) in a symmetrical manner. • Universal Vitiligo: Most of the skin surface is affected. It is hard to say how vitiligo will affect a certain individual; the course and prognosis of the disease may vary from person to person. The loss of color may be progressive in some, forming spots on most of the skin. Vitiligo, however is not life-threatening or contagious. It is associated with stress and reduced self-esteem. It is important to support and encourage individuals suffering from vitiligo. Consult your dermatologist and discuss various treatment protocols that are available today and may be suitable for you, ranging from topical therapy, oral medicines, lasers and even surgery.