This is an unappealing yet harmless skin disorder characterised by white patches of skin that have seemingly lost their ability to produce the normal colour of the skin.
- White patches of skin on exposed areas of the body (often occur symmetrically, for example on both knees)
- Some people may lose all their pigmentation, while others may only have a few spots of lost colour
- Hair may also go grey in patches
- Usually starts before the age of 20
- May come and go or lay dormant for periods of up to a year
In vitiligo, the cells stop producing melanin which gives the skin and hair its colour. The direct cause of this is not known, although it is suspected that it is hereditary, and that emotional stress may play a role in its development. Another possibility is that vitiligo is an auto-immune disease (i.e. one in which the body attacks its own cells, perceiving them as foreign).
Vitiligo is not dangerous, but it is sometimes linked with other diseases or disorders such as thyroid problems, pernicious anaemia, Addison’s disease (decreased adrenal gland function), and alopecia areata (hair loss in patches).
Your naturopath can prescribe treatments for vitiligo, which may include high doses of certain minerals and B group vitamins. Supportive therapies for the liver are also a common part of the treatment plan.
The unpigmented areas are prone to sunburn, requiring the use of protective clothing and regular application of a sunscreen with a high protective factor, such as SPF 30+.
- Vitamin B complex
- Vitamin E and Vitamin C are antioxidant nutrients that may help protect the skin from sun damage
Consult your healthcare professional if the condition is severely affecting your lifestyle and self-esteem.