Vitiligo

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A young woman with vitiligo

Vitiligo is a long lasting skin disease that causes the losing of color from the skin. It occurs when the melanocytes, cells that give skin their color, die or do not work.

How is it caught?[change | edit source]

The exact cause of vitiligo is complex and not fully understood. It may be caused by the immune system, genetic, and environmental factors. Vitiligo may also be caused by stress that affects the immune system, leading the body to react and start eliminating skin pigment.

People over 20 years old rarely develop this disease. These patches often occur to both sides symmetrically and may change shape.

Effects of vitiligo[change | edit source]

  • color of the skin is lighter because there are no pigments
  • purple or golden brown patches on and around the eyes, nose, and mouth
  • puffiness of the middle layer of the eye
  • quicker graying of hair
  • more sensitive to sun

This disease can also affect the mental state of the patient.

Curing it[change | edit source]

Today, doctors do not understand what causes the disease, so right now, it can not be cured. Some things can be done to fight its effects, though. Makeup or cosmetics can cover up the parts of the skin with vitiligo. Also, staying out of the sun to prevent tanning is good. But the treatment given by most skin doctors is cortico steroid cream. Breakthrough discovery in 2004 allowed for the transplant of melanocytes to vitiligo affected areas, repigmenting the region.

Famous people with vitiligo[change | edit source]

  • Michael Jackson told Oprah in a 1993 interview that he had vitiligo. He is the most well known person to have had the disease. A lot of people thought that he was lying. He died in 2009, and his autopsy found that he was telling the truth.[1]
  • Jon Hamm got vitilgo when he was filmed acting for Mad Men because of stress.[2]

References[change | edit source]