Vitiligo is a rare skin disease affecting 0.5 to 1% of the total world’s population, in which lighter spots develop on the skin at multiple sites. In the normal body, a pigment called melanin is present in the special skin cells called melanocytes which is responsible for the color of skin, hair, and eyes in many organisms including humans. Patients suffering from vitiligo lack the appropriate amount of melanin-producing cells. The absence of melanocytes leaves white patches on the skin. Vitiligo is not a dangerous disease but it leaves mental strain on the patients as they are looked at differently and affects their way of life.
Mechanism of vitiligo spread
There is a common misconception that vitiligo spreads by touch. Vitiligo is not a contagious skin disease. It does not spread via direct skin touch between two individuals. Vitiligo is mostly observed on the parts of the body that are exposed to sunlight the most. It starts as the little white spots on the body especially hands, forearms, face, and around the eyes. Sometimes the white spots on the skin widen and become large but sometimes they remain the same size but change their location. The skin cells heal from one spot but are damaged on the other. There is a high chance of vitiligo around the parts of the body with mucous membranes such as the mouth, nose, and genitals. There are multiple mitigating treatments and precautions that should be followed by the patients. There are UV rays treatments available though doctors advise covering the skin when going outside to avoid sun rays. Doctors also prescribe medications that are applied directly to the spots affected by vitiligo
Rate of vitiligo spread
There is no fixed pattern for the spread of vitiligo. In some cases, vitiligo spreads fast within a few months of initial disease but then it stops. In some cases, the white spots do not enlarge and remain the same. Vitiligo lesions are harder to track and in localized vitiligo, the spots stay at the same area. Sometimes the white spots that had been treated start turning brown and the white spots come back.
Factors affecting rate of vitiligo spread
Many factors affect the rate of vitiligo spread. According to researchers, long-term exposure of skin to ultraviolet rays, pregnancy, emotional and mental stress causes the vitiligo to spread further. Any type of physical injury such as a bruise, sharp cut, or amputation could also cause vitiligo in later stages of life. There is no link between genders and the spread of vitiligo; both are affected by it. Vitiligo is a genetic disease and there is a high chance of transfer of this disease from parents to their children. Genes are a major factor in the vitiligo spread.
Can you stop vitiligo from spreading?
There are several natural options that can slow or possibly stop vitiligo from spreading:
Aloe vera is a plant that has been associated with the treatment of several skin conditions for a long time. Since it has also shown significant results as well, it goes without saying that the continued use of aloe vera may also be helpful to some extent when treating vitiligo.
Aloe vera contains antioxidants and vitamins that are needed to keep vitiligo at bay. Vitamins such as B12, C, A and folic acid are found in aloe vera. It also has components which are active ingredients in promoting re-pigmentation such as zinc, copper, calcium etc.
Studies suggest that genetic oxidative stress can also trigger skin conditions such as vitiligo and hyperpigmentation. Oxidative stress is caused by the inability of the cellular defense mechanism to actively fight against reactive oxygen species.
Reactive oxygen species, when left unchallenged, destroy cell membranes, lipids and even DNA. This can exacerbate skin conditions like vitiligo.
In this scenario, the most natural way to fight stress is to adopt stress reductive workout routines such as yoga, and aerobics. Vitamin C and E are said to be antioxidants which also help in fighting reactive oxygen species. Increasing diets rich in these vitamins or including supplements may also help in fighting vitiligo.
Wearing Sun Screen
Another important thing that people with vitiligo can do is to wear sun screen to protect their skin against the sun’s harmful rays. According to studies, prolonged exposure to UV rays can worsen vitiligo because individuals with the condition already lack melanin which is an active agent in protecting against harmful rays. It is recommended to put on sunscreen of 45spf or more, use a scarf to protect skin or wear hats so that vitiligo is not worsened.
As a research article published in the Asian Journal of Pharmaceutical and Clinical Research has pointed out, the standardized extract of ginkgo biloba represents an excellent treatment option for patients diagnosed with vitiligo. The study involved the administration of ginkgo biloba capsules, for a period of 8 weeks. The vitiligo lesions improved and the serum interleukins decreased significantly, indicating a healing effect of the melanocytes (pigment-producing cells). The researchers concluded the ginkgo biloba had both a pigment-restoring and an antioxidant effect.
Using a specially-formulated vitamin supplement
Persons with vitiligo have been found to more frequently suffer from low levels of folic acid, vitamin B12, vitamin C, copper and zinc compared to the rest of the population. Having insufficient levels of vitamins and minerals will negatively impact health, and will make it more likely for the vitiligo to spread. Pantothenic acid is another important vitamin that is known to be essential for melanin production. Using a specially-formulated supplement such as the patented Recouleur © that contains these is therefore highly recommended for anyone who suffers from vitiligo.
I have had vitiligo for quite some years and it did not really bother me, but I had COVID at the beginning of the epidemic Feb-March 2020 and just the other day I realised that the huge vitiligo patches and huge spreading that has now appeared in many places al over my body and which is now really bothersome is quite possibly related to the COVID ! I have no other explanation for it, For the first time I am really trying to combat it, as it has really now become a big issue in my life.
Elsie, I have had vitiligo since I was 27 and pregnant with my second son. It spreads when it feels like it but I had covid a month ago and now it is spreading rapidly and in new areas so there must be a link.
I reckon it could be down to covid affecting vitamin and mineral absorption in the gut or maybe my immune system has gone haywire due to the virus infection.
If there are any scientists out there studying this please can you investigate why this is happening.