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What is Leucoderma?

LeucodermaLeucoderma (also known as vitiligo) is a result of the malfunctioning of the immune system. Persons who suffer from Leucoderma experience lose of skin coloration in the form of patches. These can spread to different parts of the body. Our skin contains a substance known as melanin. It is responsible for giving our skin its colour. If areas of the skin do not produce this substance, as is the case of persons suffering from Leucoderma, they will assume the form of white or colourless spots that later develop into patches. These may grow bigger and eventually cover most of one’s body. Patches are more noticeable on people of darker skin tone. The disease is harmless as it does not cause pain or relevant complications. Those who have the condition may feel, however, the emotional distress of dealing with the physical alterations that the disease provokes.

Causes of Leucoderma:

The causes of this disease are somewhat ambiguous but can possibly be linked to excessive emotional stress, worms or other parasites, gastric disorders, deficit hepatic function, typhoid, external injuries or burns and in many cases, due to a family history of the disease.

Who is more at Risk at Developing Leucoderma?

Leucoderma may affect anyone. It affects people of both sexes and of any race. Half of the cases of Leucoderma are known, however, to be diagnosed before the age of 25. There are however, increased chances of developing the condition if there is, for example, history of the disease in the family it affects 1 to 3% of the world’s population, although, curiously, there is a high incidence of the disease in India with a total of 8.8 of cases being registered in this country and which this disease is seen as a social stigma.

How can it be Treated?

It is suggested that patients suffering from this condition expose the affected skin area to the sun for about 20-30 minutes a day. If direct sunlight is insufficient; some patients are submitted to artificial treatment of ultra violet rays. Shower gels should be mild to avoid skin irritation, as well as staying away from cosmetic products like creams and powders. Spreading coconut oil, however, over the patches is recommended by some physicians. Iron rich diet is also recommended. Part of the treatment is also adjusting one’s lifestyle, being more relaxed and avoiding stress.

As part of the treatment, which can be a long process, the patient should embark on a well balanced diet if they haven’t when diagnosed. Fresh fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts and grains should be included in their daily food intake. Avoiding alcohol, coffee, tea, polished rice, spicy dishes, and tinned and bottled foods will better the patient’s physical and emotional condition. Wearing tight clothes that make skin blood circulation difficult should be avoided, as well as scratching the affected area.

Some of the emotional distress felt by Leucoderma patients is unfortunately due to family and friends´ lack of support. Some people wrongly believe that the disease is infectious or contagious and consequently contribute to the patient’s exclusion. It is important that the persons that have Leucoderma be actively involved in their realm of social activities as this will contribute to build their confidence and deal with their insecurities.

Treatment will contribute to stabilizing the patient’s skin condition and in many cases, will successfully be responsible for the complete disappearance of existing patches. Some patients resort to homeopathic treatments, while others may undergo treatment which may include laser surgery. This will also depend on how soon treatment is undergone. Hairless areas of the body, like palms and soles are more complicated areas to care for. In a considerable amount of cases, nonetheless, patients have recovered fully.

It is crucial that people be informed of the harmless nature of this disease and that it is not, in anyway, infectious or contagious. At this day and age, in which we can be so easily exposed to information, it is a pity that some continue to be prejudice towards people that suffer from this condition. It is our duty to help Leucoderma patients, as family and friends of those who have been stricken by this condition, but to correctly inform others who may still have misconceived ideas of the disease.

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