World Vitiligo Day takes place on June 25.
On World Vitiligo Day, we’re going to talk about a skin condition called vitiligo. Now, I know what you’re all thinking (if you’re old enough, that is), “isn’t that the condition that Michael Jackson supposedly had?” The answer to that is, yes! Michael Jackson was heavily criticized for “bleaching his skin” to appear more white. There were swarms of people who faulted him for being a bad role model to black children and claimed he was “white-washing” himself. The truth of the matter, as stated in his autopsy report, is that Michael Jackson suffered from a chronic skin condition called vitiligo. Vitiligo causes pigment in the skin to be lost. This ultimately results in the skin becoming very pale, since the skin lacks the ability to create color without pigment.
Of course, the star used a myriad of other products and techniques to try to get his skin to appear to be all one color, essentially to try to cover the discoloration. He was trying to cover the effects of the condition rather than lighten his skin tone. Actually, it’s very difficult to tell that he had vitiligo by looking at his face because he did such a good job masking it. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about, and it’s a lot more common than you think. So, today, on World Vitiligo Day, let’s take a second to learn a little bit about this chronic skin condition.
What is Vitiligo?
Vitiligo is a chronic skin condition that causes the skin to lose its melanin. This loss of melanin causes the skin to appear white. The white skin usually appears in patches. Vitiligo can occur anywhere on the body. Most have white patches in more than just one place. Vitiligo can occur on all skin colors, although it is more noticeable in people with darker skin tones.
Is Vitiligo an Autoimmune Disease?
Melanocytes are the cells that produce color in skin. It is unknown why, but with vitiligo, the melanocytes are destroyed. There is no known cause of vitiligo. It is theorized that it may be an autoimmune condition because of the destruction of the melanocytes. It appears that the body may be destroying those cells itself, since no other source of the destruction can be found. With autoimmune diseases, the body mistakenly begins to attack its own cells, tissues, and organs. The immune system is designed to fight off anything that could be harmful, such as bacteria or a virus. With an autoimmune disease, however, the immune system becomes confused and attacks its own normal healthy cells. Thus the name, autoimmune. Auto means self: self-immune.
Raise Awareness on World Vitiligo Day
Vitiligo is a common condition. There are somewhere between two and five million people in the United States who have the skin condition. It generally presents itself between the ages of ten and thirty. Almost all vitiligo patients are diagnosed before the age of forty. It is not dependent on gender. One thing that can impact your odds of developing the skin condition is if you have a family member who has it. Vitiligo tends to run in families.
You may also be more likely to develop vitiligo if premature graying is common in your family. That does make sense, considering that gray hair occurs as a result of loss of pigment cells. There are also some autoimmune diseases that may increase your odds of developing vitiligo. Diseases such as Hashimoto’s disease (also known as autoimmune thyroid disease or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis), or type 1 diabetes have shown to be more frequent in patients with vitiligo. Vitiligo is not contagious. Sunburns may trigger vitiligo. So, too, may industrial chemicals.
Symptoms of Vitiligo
The only symptom of vitiligo is the loss of skin color. For most people with the skin condition, the skin will suddenly and quickly begin losing pigment. This usually occurs in more than one area. Vitiligo is particularly common in places like the armpits, elbows, and any other area of the body that folds. It is also particularly common to occur around any opening on the body. It often affects the skin around the mouth and nose, as well as the hands. But, it can occur anywhere, even the hair.
Lost pigment areas may become and stay white, and maintain the same size and shape for quite some time. It is likely, however, that at some point the white patches will begin to spread and new patches may arise. Sometimes, patients will see long periods where the vitiligo remains the same and does not spread, followed by a period where the vitiligo is actively spreading. It may cycle back and forth. Vitiligo may appear over places that have been injured in the past, or in places that are exposed to sunlight frequently, too. It may also appear around moles. Loss of pigment can also occur in the mucous membranes, namely the area inside your nose or the area inside your mouth. Pigment rarely returns to places where vitiligo has developed, but it’s not impossible.
Types of Vitiligo – World Vitiligo Day
There are three classifications of vitiligo. Generalized vitiligo is the most common type of this chronic skin condition. With generalized vitiligo, the white patches generally occur symmetrically on the body. They also tend to progress symmetrically.
Segmental vitiligo generally occurs in young people. It tends to progress for a couple years and then stop.
Localized, or focal, vitiligo occurs on only a few places of the body. It is impossible to predict how any of these different types of the condition will progress over a person’s life. Sometimes, the condition will stop progressing without treatment, sometimes it wont. Generally speaking, vitiligo usually progresses and eventually covers a great deal of the skin.
Diagnosing vitiligo is relatively easy. Doctors can usually see just by looking at the patches of pigment loss whether or not the skin condition is occurring. Some doctors may do further diagnostic testing. This may require a biopsy or blood labs. Taking a biopsy of the affected skin may be helpful in diagnosis. Blood tests may determine whether there are other underlying autoimmune issues that are related to vitiligo.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for this skin condition. There is also no way to prevent the condition from occurring. Many patients with vitiligo use makeup to cover uneven skin color. Sometimes, people use corticosteroids to help with the appearance of the vitiligo, as well. Corticosteroid creams may be effective in restoring some of the pigment over time, especially when used early on in the disease process. There are surgical options such as skin grafting, and micro-pigmentation (essentially tattooing). Many of these therapies are pretty effective, but results do vary among patients.
Personalized Cause and World Vitiligo Day Awareness
Personalized Cause® is an awareness accessory brand based in California that specializes in custom awareness ribbons. Custom awareness ribbons are a unique product that allow customers to personalize their awareness ribbon with a text they choose. There is no minimum quantity order requirement for custom awareness ribbon pins, which no other company offers. You may order just one custom awareness ribbon if that’s all you want, or you can order a bunch of different one, all with different text. It’s completely up to you. If custom awareness ribbons aren’t your thing, we also carry classic awareness ribbons, fabric awareness ribbons, and silicone wristbands.
Personalized Cause® started this awareness blog to help raise awareness for the illnesses and causes that affect our customers. We want to help make this world a little more educated, understanding, and compassionate for them. It can be difficult to deal with ignorance and misunderstanding in a community. We’ve also seen how a single awareness ribbon can impact that same community. We hope to contribute to a more understanding community.
Purple awareness ribbons are used to https://personalize.wpengine.com/personalized-awareness-ribbons/purple-awareness-ribbon-pin-personalized?rq=vitiligo“>raise awareness for vitiligo. To order a custom purple awareness ribbon, visit us at Personalized Cause.
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