The skin condition vitiligo is something that many people have heard of, but some people may not know much about it. Vitiligo occurs when a person’s immune system attacks the body’s cells which are responsible for the production of color in our skin, hair, and eyes, called melanocytes. When these cells are attacked and destroyed, the pigment on the skin vanishes. Although it may be easy to determine if an individual has vitiligo, given their outward appearance, there are many misconceptions. Here are 7 facts about vitiligo you might not know.
1. Vitiligo is Not Contagious or Infectious
One of the most common misconceptions about vitiligo is that it’s contagious, which is false. Vitiligo cannot be transferred from person to person, not even through physical touch, sexual intercourse, etc.
2. Vitiligo is Painless
From a physical standpoint, vitiligo is completely painless. From an emotional and psychological standpoint, this may be a different story depending on the individual. Many embrace their vitiligo, while others find it difficult to not let it affect their self-esteem.
3. Vitiligo is Not Related to Albinism
Albinism is very different from vitiligo in that those with albinism are born with no melanin simply due to a genetic disorder. Those with vitiligo are born with normal skin and develop abnormal immune responses toward melanocytes, causing the loss of pigment later in life.
4. Vitiligo is Not Caused by Food Intake
There are myths that vitiligo can be caused by certain food or drink you ingest, such as anything citrus or white—the most common examples being eating fish or drinking milk. But there is simply no scientific evidence to prove this to be true. Because this is only an autoimmune skin condition, those with vitiligo can eat or drink anything they want.
5. Vitiligo is Not Leprosy
Vitiligo is often mistaken for leprosy due to its similar appearance on the skin. However, the two skin conditions are very different from each other. Leprosy is a chronic infectious disease affecting the eyes and skin, whereas vitiligo is an autoimmune disease that causes skin pigment loss.
6. White Patches Do Not Always Lead to Vitiligo
Not all white patches on the skin are vitiligo. Other skin conditions are known to begin in white patches, such as fungal infections, post-burns, leprosy, etc. This is why it’s important to always consult your doctor and refrain from self-diagnosing.
7. Vitiligo Can Happen to Anyone
Vitiligo does not occur in one type of person more than the other. This condition can occur in any individual of any age, skin color, race, and/or gender. The only exception to this is that people with compromised immune systems may be more susceptible, seeing as vitiligo is an autoimmune disease.
Here at Texas Dermatology, we pride ourselves on educating our patients on the various skin conditions they or a loved one may suffer with. Vitiligo is no expectation. Click here to learn more about our enrolling vitiligo studies and how to get involved. You can also contact us today at (210) 829-5180 to schedule an appointment or click here to submit a request online.