Vitiligo in children is a pigmentation disorder in the human skin. The human skin contains special skin cells (melanocytes) that produce the pigment melanin which colors the skin.
In Vitiligo, the special skin cells (melanocytes) as well as the tissues (mucous membranes) that line the inside of the mouth, nose, genital and rectal areas, and the retina of the eyes are destroyed. As a result, white patches of skin appear on different parts of the body. The hair may also turn white that grows in areas affected by vitiligo.
What causes vitiligo?
There are several theories regarding the cause of vitiligo but the actual cause is not fully known. According to one theory, people with vitiligo develop antibodies that, turn upon them and destroy their own melanocytes instead of protecting them. There is another theory according to which the melanocytes somehow attack and destroy themselves. Finally, some people with vitiligo have reported that a single event such as severe sunburn or an episode of emotional distress is the main cause of this order. Scientifically, events of this nature have not been accepted as the main cause of vitiligo. These are merely coincidences.
Who is affected by vitiligo?
The number of people affected by vitiligo ( ) disorder ranges from 40-50 million. It forms about 1 to 2% of people in the world. 2 to 5 million people have the disorder in the United States alone.
Vitiligo affects all races and both sexes equally and ninety-five percent of its victims are below the age of 40.
What is the association of vitiligo with autoimmune disease?
In Autoimmune diseases, a person’s immune system reacts against the body’s own organs or tissues. Vitiligo is found to be more common in people with certain autoimmune diseases.
Autoimmune diseases that are associated with vitiligo include: hyperthyroidism (over activity of the thyroid gland), adrenocortical insufficiency (the adrenal gland does not produce enough of the hormone corticosteroid), alopecia areata (patches of baldness), and pernicious anemia (a low level of red blood cells caused by the failure of the body to absorb vitamin B12).
Is vitiligo inherited?
Vitiligo may be hereditary in some cases. Children of vitiligo affected parents are more likely to develop vitiligo disorder. However, most children will not get vitiligo even if a parent has it. Also most people with vitiligo do not have a family history of the disorder.
Large number of inherited disorders are associated with vitiligo. They include: albinism of the ocular type, autoimmune polyendocrinopathy syndrome, congenital deafness with vitiligo and achalasia, dyschromatosis symmetrica hereditaria, ermine phenotype, familial histiocyctic reticulosis, kabuki syndrome, and the syndrome of spastic paraparesis, vitiligo, premature graying and characteristic facies.
The abundance of genetic diseases associated with vitiligo clearly proves that there are a number of genes which normally govern the development and wellbeing of the melanocytes.
What are the symptoms of vitiligo?
White patches (depigmentation) on the skin are the foremost symbol of vitiligo. These patches are more common in sun-exposed areas, including the hands, feet, arms, face, and lips. Other common areas are the armpits and groin, and around the mouth, eyes, nostrils, navel, and genitals.
Vitiligo in children generally appears in one of three patterns: focal pattern, segmental pattern and generalized pattern. In focal pattern, the depigmentation is limited to one or only a few areas. In segmental pattern, depigmented patches are developed on only one side of the body. But in the generalized pattern, depigmentation occurs on different parts of the body.