Vitiligo Symptoms, Clinical Features, Diagnosis
- Initially, discoloration takes place in small spots on different parts of the skin exposed to sun and open atmosphere. In the beginning the patches are not very prominent but gradually become white and easily noticeable. Such white patches may appear on any part of the body but are more common on the lips, face and neck, back of hands and wrists, lower abdomen and thighs.
- The patches may be of any size and shape and may or may not be symmetrical.
- Over a period of time, with reduction in production of melanin, the spots slowly increase in size until large areas of the skin are completely decolorized. Finally almost entire skin becomes white. The small remaining patches of skin may then be mistaken as pigmented areas.
- Hair on affected areas also become white.
- Those who are predisposed to get vitiligo, may develop it on the spots of abrasions, scars and eczema.
- Vitiligo is more prominent in dark skinned persons. In white skinned persons, it becomes more noticeable when the normal skin is tanned by the sun. The patients are very susceptible to sunburn. Since the white areas have no protective pigment, they are easily made red and sore by exposure to sun or artificial ultraviolet light.
- In rare cases though, repigmentation may automatically take place making the white spots disappear.
Other Symptoms Associated with Vitiligo
Like sufferers of any other disease, sufferers of vitiligo have other health problems present whether directly associated with the disease or not. Different practitioners have mentioned such diseases according to their experience and observations. Common diseases which may be present along with leucoderma include the following:
- Hypotension. We have noticed it in majority of the cases.
- Subnormal body temperature. Frequently noticed.
- Alopecia (Loss of hair)
- Premature graying of hair
- Halo Nevus
- Diabetes Insipidus
- General weakness and lassitude
- Sensitivity to cold
This list is not exhaustive by any means. There can be other ailments present varying from person to person.
Diagnosis of Vitiligo
White spots on the skin can be due to various reasons not necessarily or always due to vitiligo. Vitiligo needs to be diagnosed properly through visual examination and/or laboratory tests.
- The skin may also become white in patches due to destruction of melanocytes for other reasons such as burns, which should not be mistaken as vitiligo. This can be distinguished during diagnosis.
- The vitiligo areas have convex margins whereas normal areas have concave margins. When vitiligo occurs on a hairy area such as eyebrows and pubes, the hair on the white patch may also become white.
- Deficiency of calcium in the body may also cause white spots to appear particularly in children which are different to vitiligo in appearance and have different treatment all together.
- If you see persistent white spots on the body, consult the dermatologist for proper diagnosis. If necessary, he might take small piece of the skin from the affected area for laboratory test. This procedure of taking the skin sample is called biopsy and is used to diagnose the disease.