Vitiligo is a skin condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It's characterized by the loss of pigmentation in certain areas of the skin, resulting in white patches that can appear anywhere on the body. However, what many people don't know is that vitiligo can also affect the hair, causing patches of white or gray hair to appear on the scalp, beard, or other areas of the body where hair grows.
This condition is known as vitiligo hair, and it can be just as distressing and embarrassing as vitiligo on the skin. If you're dealing with vitiligo hair or know someone who is, it's important to understand the causes, symptoms, and treatment options available.
In this interesting article, we'll explore everything you need to know about vitiligo hair and how to manage it effectively. We'll also discuss the underlying causes of vitiligo hair, including genetic and autoimmune factors and many more.
What Is Vitiligo Hair?
Vitiligo - (pronounced as 'vit ih lie go') causes the skin to emerge lighter than the natural skin tone or turn white. The portion of your skin that loses its pigment is called a macule, which must be less than 1 centimeter wide. Patches are called if they're larger than 1 centimeter.
If you have Vitiligo in your body parts where you have hair, hair may turn into dark grey hair or ash grey hair. It generally starts from your hands, forearms, feet, and face. Sometimes lip pigmentation would be a sign of Vitiligo.
Worldwide, approximately 1% of the population has Vitiligo. Tough treatment isn't essential, but if you don't like the changes to your skin tone, you should seek medical help.
In most cases, pigment loss spreads and involves most of the skin. Occasionally, the affected skin never gets its color back.
Vitiligo is most common on the:
- Backs of the hands
Whom Does Vitiligo Affect?
It doesn't matter what color, tone, or sex you belong to. Vitiligo can affect you at any time in your life. It's more observable in people with darker skin tones. Macules or patches usually start before age 30.
But if you have certain autoimmune conditions, then you have a higher risk. Such autoimmune conditions are:
- Addison's disease.
- Type 1 Diabetes
- Rheumatoid arthritis.
- Thyroid disease.
Types of Vitiligo Hair
There are several types of Vitiligo which are
- Generalized Vitiligo: a most common type of Vitiligo that causes macules to appear in different parts of your body.
- Segmental Vitiligo: It affects only one side of your body, such as the hands or face.
- Mucosal Vitiligo: Mucosal Vitiligo affects the mucous membranes of your mouth, lips, or genitals.
- Focal Vitiligo: It is a rare kind where the macules develop in a limited area and stays there for a long time. It means focal Vitiligo doesn't spread within one to two years.
- Trichome Vitiligo: It presents as a bullseye, with a white or colorless center, followed by a lighter pigmented area and a natural skin tone area.
- Universal Vitiligo: This rare type of Vitiligo causes more than 80% of your skin to pigment loss.
Symptoms Of Vitiligo
Signs and symptoms of Vitiligo include:
- Patches of the skin.
- Mucous membranes
- Lose color of skin.
- White or lighter skin tone than your natural skin tone.
- Patches of hair turn silver, gray, or white.
In the mild case, symptoms can appear only in a small area of your body, and in severe, it affects a large area of your skin.
Some people may experience itchy skin before depigmentation starts.
What Causes Vitiligo?
It's a bit vague to answer appropriately. Because, unlike skin disease, Vitiligo is quite tough to understand.
A lack of pigment or melanin in your skin causes Vitiligo. The exact reason is unknown. Researchers suggest Vitiligo can be the result of the:
An Autoimmune Condition
Your immune system perceives healthy cells as foreign invaders that can harm you. This helps your immune system overreact and develop antibodies to destroy your melanocytes.
A genetic mutation can affect how melanocytes function. Over 30 genes can increase your risk of developing Vitiligo.
When you experience frequent emotional or physical stress on your body, especially after an injury, your melanocyte cells may produce less pigment. High cellular stress levels in the innate immune system might be the initial triggers of vitiligo hair.
Factors like ultraviolet radiation of sunlight and toxic chemical can affect your melanocyte cells' function.
Other immune modifying agents:
Some products are believed to trigger vitiligo hair, including:
- Some soaps
- Synthetic oils
- Varnish and lacquer resins
Complication Of Vitiligo
Vitiligo patients seem at a higher risk for pernicious anemia, an autoimmune condition that causes vitamin B-12 deficiency. However, Vitiligo is typically a cosmetic condition. But Vitiligo may cause
Sensitive skin: Macules and patches lack melanocytes, making your skin more sensitive to sunlight. This can cause your skin to burn quickly instead of normal tanning.
Eye Abnormalities: Vitiligo patients may have abnormalities in their retinas (the light-sensitive cells inside your eye) and variations in their iris colors (the colored part of your eye).
Hearing loss: A person can develop hearing loss if the melanocytes located in the inner ear get affected by Vitiligo.
A premature white strip of hair: A lock of hair may turn white prematurely in the area with a loss of pigment, including the hair on the scalp, eyelashes, eyebrows, and beard.
Predisposition to autoimmune conditions: The immune system of people with Vitiligo may be affected by other autoimmune conditions. A variety of autoimmune conditions can cause hypothyroidism, diabetes, and anemia.
Emotional challenges: People with Vitiligo, in most cases, feel embarrassed about their skin looks. Many people diagnosed with Vitiligo generate low self-esteem. This could lead to anxiety or depression.
And sometimes, they want to isolate themselves or avoid social situations. If this happens to you too, don't be late and talk to your healthcare provider, doctor, or your family and friends.
Vitiligo and Hair Loss
Vitiligo can lead to hair losing color, but it doesn't induce hair loss. Instead, Vitiligo occurs alongside another inflammatory skin condition, alopecia areata.
To optimize hair regrowth, avoid tight ponytails and buns, extensions, and braids. Also, avoid chemical treatments, hair dye, and heat styling.
Vitiligo or Gray Hair?
Melanin isn't just responsible for skin and hair color, though; it also provides hair with its original color. All hair is naturally white, but melanin produces before birth to give hair its color. Vitiligo itself does not cause hair loss.
It is likely that your hair is graying if the pigment in it is changing in uniform patterns rather than isolated light patches. The appearance of Vitiligo tends to be patchy.
There are other conditions that can cause gray or white patches in your hair, like polio or white forelocks. There are slight differences between them and Vitiligo, and they may appear with conditions such as vitiligo and alopecia areata. It may be necessary to remove a sample of your skin for laboratory examination in order to determine the exact cause of your pigment-patchy hair loss.
Future targeted Treatments For Vitiligo Hair.
Common treatments for Vitiligo aren't mandatory. Because it is not harmful to your body parts and is only cosmetic. Many patients want to hide Vitiligo. The healthcare provider can help you find systemic treatments if you have widespread Vitiligo or your physical symptoms affect your emotional well-being.
By either re pigmenting your skin (repigmentation) or removing any remaining color (depigmentation), you can create a uniform skin tone. Vitiligo can be treated with the following topical treatments methods:
- Light therapy.
- Depigmentation therapy.
It isn't possible to prevent Vitiligo from affecting your skin, but certain drugs can slow pigment loss, help melanocytes regrow, or restore color to your skin. Medications include
- Topical Janus kinase inhibitors.
- Calcineurin inhibitors.
The purpose of light therapy or phototherapy is to restore color to your skin. A medical-grade laser or lightbox will be used for a short period of time by your provider to treat your skin. To see results on your skin, you may need several sessions of light therapy.
During depigmentation therapy, your natural skin tone is removed to match areas of your skin affected by Vitiligo. Monobenzone is used in depigmentation therapy.
If you have pigmented patches on your skin, you can apply this medication to them. By using this method, you will be able to turn your skin white to match your vitiligo-affected areas.
Vitiligo sufferers can undergo surgery to treat their condition. Treatment options include
- Skin grafts
- Blister grafting
Prevention Of Vitiligo Hair
The cause of Vitiligo is unknown, and there is no known way to prevent it. In order to decrease your risk of developing Vitiligo, you should:
- Maintaining safe sun exposure habits.
- Using a moisturizer every day to take care of your skin.
- Keeping your body healthy by avoiding stress and injury.
- Managing autoimmune conditions that may be present.
Although Vitiligo is not a serious disease, people view it differently when it affects them. In some cases, people embrace changes to their skin with confidence, while in others, it has a detrimental effect on their self-esteem.
You can manage your expectations and symptoms by being well-informed about the condition and seeking out proper care from a dermatologist. Having a connection with others who have Vitiligo can help you cope with any feelings you may be experiencing.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Question 1: Is Vitiligo Hereditary?
Answer 1: Vitiligo sometimes runs in families, but the inheritance pattern is complicated due to multiple causative factors. It is estimated that about one-fifth of people with this condition have a close relative or family history who is also affected.
Question 2- how to stop alopecia areata from spreading?
Answer 2: Alopecia areata can be prevented by reducing stress, avoiding unnecessary hair or scalp trauma, and analyzing your diet.
Question 3: What things to avoid when you have alopecia areata?
Answer 3: There are two types of polyunsaturated fats: corn oil and sunflower oil. Fats like these aren't good for you. for Alopecia areata patients; symptoms are worsened by consuming them. Hence, it is recommended to avoid fried foods.
Question 4: Is Vitiligo the same as poliosis?
Answer 4: There is a difference between Vitiligo and poliosis when it comes to discoloration of the top hair follicles. Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada syndrome (VKH), a rare autoimmune disease that affects the skin, or with other autoimmune diseases, these conditions may occur together.
Question 5: Does hair grow on vitiligo patches?
Answer 5: Yes, Hair can grow on Vitiligo and patches of skin, but it may appear gray or white due to a lack of melanin.