Leukoderma Causes, Symptoms and Treatment - VIMS

Leukoderma Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Leukoderma, also spelled as Leucoderma, is a disease that causes loss of pigmentation on the skinThe condition causes white patches to appear on the skin and is more distinguishable in people with dark skin.
Also termed vitiligo, the condition is termed severe when the spots cover the entire body, including the scalp, eyes, and genitals. It is a long-term skin ailment that at times is incurable. With the help of proper medical diagnosis and a combination of various treatments, patients can manage the diseaseAll patients do not respond in the same way to the treatments due to different underlying causes; hence the results of the treatment will differ from one to another. 
Types of Vitiligo
Vitiligo or Leukoderma is classified into two main categories –
  1. Non-segmental vitiligo
  2. Segmental Vitiligo
Non-segmental Vitiligo
Non-segmental Vitiligo (NSV) is the most commonly occurring disease. It is characterized by patches appearing in both halves of the body and often symmetrical in the region in which they appearAccording to research, 90% of the people affected with Leukoderma fall under this category. The NSV is further grouped into the following categories
  • Generalized or Universal Leukoderma is the condition where the white patches can occur anywhere on the body.
  • Focal vitiligo occurs mostly in children and is restrained in one area of the body.
  • Acrofacial vitiligo is the condition that causes depigmentation around fingers, vitiligo on lips, and the periorificial regions [meaning inside of the mouth, chin, eyelids, nostrils, and upper lips].
  • Mucosal Leucoderma occurs only in the mucous membranes.
Segmental Vitiligo
Segmental Vitiligo [SV] is restricted to one segment or one half of the body. The depigmentation occurs most commonly in the areas of the skin associated with the dorsal roots emerging from the spinal cord. SV occurs only in 10% of the patients affected with Lekoderma and is a stable version of the two. The treatment and causes vary from that of NSV, and the appearance is also different.
Symptoms of Leukoderma
To know if a person is affected by vitiligo, one can observe the occurrence of the following symptoms.
  • Depigmentation of the skin areas exposed to the sun
  • Spreading of the white pigmentation in case of an injury while white patches already exist in a different area of the skin
  • If the white patches that are generally harmless start to itch on exposure to the sun, or excessive heat, or when sweating
  • If the depigmentation starts becoming prominent on the face, hands, and other areas of the body
  • Premature greying of hairs
  • Change in the retina color
 The process of depigmentation is usually painless. They can start occurring as harmless small patches and grow in size, as in the case of NSV.
Causes of Leukoderma

Though the exact cause for vitiligo is unknown, some theories try to explain what causes leukoderma. Even after extensive research, what triggers Luekoderma is unknown, but the following reasons are attributed as a combination of one or more factors causing the condition.

  • Autoimmune disorder: It is the condition in which the immune system attacks healthy cells of the body thereby destroying the basic mechanism of the body itself. One of the effects of the condition is the destruction of the melanocytes causing depigmentation on the skin leading to vitiligo.
  • Genetics: According to a study, 30% of the cases are attributed to hereditary reasons. The studies also reveal that stress triggers the genes causing vitiligo causing the condition in the individuals.
  • Infections: One of the most common causes for vitiligo is either viral or bacterial infections like leprosy, syphilis, lichen planus, and other diseases.
  • Occupation: Staying in a job that demands continuous exposure to some chemicals, or sun causing sunburns, also causes Leucoderma.
  • Neurogenic factors – a condition where substances toxic to the melanocytes are released from the nerve ending on the skin, can cause vitiligo.
Leucoderma Treatment

Vitiligo is not a life-threatening disease and does not spread by coming in contact with the person who has it. According to current research trends, there is no cure for vitiligo, but the condition is manageable with various vitiligo treatment options available to patients. Few among them are:

  • Medication – Doctors advise topical creams or ora pills to help repigment the skin, and control inflammation or other effects arising due to depigmentation.
  • Light Therapy – Light therapy sessions involving Narrow-band ultraviolet – B (311) phototherapy and oral psoralen and UVA – PUVA therapy are the two prominent types of light therapy used in treating vitiligo. Of the two, PUVA is more effective in treating the leukoderma occurring in the upper body.
  • Surgery – Skin grafts where the normal skin is removed from one part of the body and is used to cover the affected area is a common treating method for vitiligo. Another similar technique used is Blister grafting.

The main goal among all the treatment methods is to darken the lightened skin patches to avoid further spread of these patches. If the condition is still in its early phases, the application of cosmetics like skin tanners or makeup on the affected area remains the safest option instead of the above-mentioned methods.

Certain individuals also resort to getting tattoos to cover up the affected areas, however, this method is not very popular since the chances of triggering another patch due to allergic reactions are always on the higher side.

Also, Read Best Ayurvedic Herbs for Skin

Leukoderma treatment at home

Several home remedies help in managing leukoderma at home, however, they do not provide a complete cure. Few methods one can try at home to manage vitiligo are –

  • Dietary changes: Consuming food rich in vitamin C, zinc, and copper is said to stimulate the healing process.
  • Apply a mixture of basil leaves and lime juice to the affected area to increase melanin production.
  • Applying a mixture of turmeric and mustard oil twice a day on the affected part is another way of increasing melanin production.

If you are diagnosed with Leukoderma, few things to always remember are-

  • Make sure to apply sunscreen while stepping out into the sun to avoid sunburn and rashes.
  • Keeping yourself well hydrated also helps in avoiding rashes.
  • Most importantly, do not fall prey to scams that claim to cure vitiligo in 30 or 40 or any number of days.
  • Reach out to counselors to deal with the social stigma attached to this skin condition, and do not take drastic or uninformed measures in the heat of the moment.

Always consult your dermatologist or reach out to our doctors at VIMS for more details on how to manage Leucoderma. We are always around the corner to help you fight the social stigma attached to this skin condition. Remember, this is just a condition of the body and not the end of the world.

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