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Vitiligo and Loss of Skin Color
Vitiligo is a condition in which white patches develop on the skin. Any location on the body can be affected, and most people with vitiligo have white patches in many areas of the body.

Causes of Vitiligo
Melanin is the pigment that gives the skin its characteristic color. Vitiligo is caused by a loss of pigment in the skin, due to destruction of pigment-forming cells known as melanocytes. The exact cause of the destruction of the pigment-forming cells (melanocytes) in the skin is not known. One possible explanation might be that the body's immune system destroys the cells, as in other autoimmune conditions. Although vitiligo affects all races equally, it is more noticeable in dark-skinned people.

Risk Factors for Vitiligo 
Vitiligo affects up to 2% of the population, and it is estimated that two to five million Americans have the condition. In most cases, vitiligo develops early in life, between the ages of ten and 30 years. Ninety-five per cent of those affected will develop the disorder before age 40. Both men and women are equally likely to develop vitiligo. Vitiligo may run in families; those with a family history of vitiligo or premature graying of the hair are at increased risk for the development of vitiligo. Other risk factors that increase one's chances of developing vitiligo include having autoimmune diseases, such as autoimmune thyroid disease (Hashimoto's thyroiditis).

Symptoms of Vitiligo
Symptoms of vitiligo include an often rapid pigment loss in several areas of the skin. The initial appearance of the white patches can be followed by a stable period without any progression of the condition. Later on, further cycles of pigment loss and stability may be observed. Vitiligo commonly affects areas on the skin that are exposed to sun, body folds (such as armpits), previous sites of injury, areas around moles, or areas around body orifices (openings). It is rare for pigment to return once the white patches have developed. Vitiligo can also affect the eyes, skin, and hair.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Vitiligo
Your doctor can usually make the diagnosis of vitiligo during a physical examination. There is no known way to prevent or cure vitiligo. However, several methods, including cosmetics, re-pigmentation using UV light therapy, steroid creams, depigmentation of unaffected skin areas, and skin grafting, can be used to improve the appearance of skin severely affected by vitiligo.

Repigmentation of the affected skin
In some cases re-pigmentation of the skin where color loss is present due to vitilgo is a great solution. However, there are some limitations.  It is not advisable to re-color large areas of the skin, or if the conditition is unstable, still changing or not in remission. Otherwise you are chasing spots all over. It is recommended only for areas that are small and highly prominent such as the face or chest that cause extreme self-consiousness and all other methods for covering or re-coloring have been explored. Customized colors designed to match the surrounding in-tact skin tone are implanted in the white areas to re-color and blend. This is often a multi-procedure process and will have to be re-colored every 1-3 years. 

In the event that you are not a good candidate for the permanent recoloring, we offer a great second-best solution. We carry a superior line of waterproof, smudge and smear-proof camouflage makeup. It is custom-blended for a perfect match and won’t wash or wear off the way tradition makeup of other camouflage makeups will. It can be used anywhere on the body, and even stays put during swimming. 
Visit with us for your personalized application instructions and custom color matching.


Debbie Miller, CPCP
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