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You Know It When You See It

Vitiligo.  You may not know how to say it (vĭ – tĭ – lī’– gō) but you’ve probably seen it.

Pigment from the skin seems to disappear in random patterns on hands and arms and faces or a patch of white hair.  Michael Jackson famously had it as do/did …………………..    It’s hard not to stare.  How does that happen you wonder.  How do I avoid getting it?

Vitiligo is an autoimmune disease.  (Psoriasis  and scleroderma are too. Eczema is annoying but it’s not a disease.) The immune system goes into overdrive and attacks the skin but in different ways for each one.

The causes of vitiligo are not easily explained but it isn’t because of lack of trying.  There have been scientific studies of course.  Here’s what we do know.

There’s no biologic or topical treatment that gets the pigment back.  In other words, there’s no miracle pill or cream to prescribe.

There is phototherapy.  Vitiligo shows great improvement when treated with narrow band UV lights when prescribed and monitored by a physician.

Like all autoimmune conditions the physical effects aren’t always what the patient is most concerned with.  Just ask Denise.


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