Vitiligo 

Light patches on the skin

Common types of light patches on the skin are Pityriasis alba, Pityriasis versicolor and Vitiligo.  

 

Pityriasis alba

This is common in children and is a response to sunlight

 

Pityriasis versicolor

This is a fungal infection of the skin and causes scaly light patches on sun exposed areas.  A skin scrape may be needed to confirm the diagnosis but this may be diagnosed just by looking at the skin.  

 

Vitiligo 

Milky white patches, no scales, no itch. 

Pityriasis alba

Light patch in Pityriasis alba

Pityriasis versicolor

Light scaly patches in Pityriasis versicolor

What is Vitiligo?

Vitiligo is a skin condition where the cells that produce skin pigment are destroyed.  

 

The body thinks the pigment-producing cells are foreign and dangerous and accidentally attacks these cells - this is what we mean by "Autoimmune" as your immune system attacks the bodies own cells. 

 

This means no pigment is produced by the cells, leaving the skin a milky whlte colour.

It can run in families.  It may start as a small patch and spread.  

There are many treatments available.

 

Enquire about Vitix and Viticolour gel at your pharmacy or doctor.  They can be ordered from SkinTech or at my office.  These are new products dye the skin over time and your white patches will begin to match the rest of your skin. 

World Vitiligo Day

25 June is World Vitiligo Day.  It commemorates the date of Michael Jacksons passing as the icon himself had Vitiligo.

Numerous support groups around the world arrange events and talks for people with 

Each year, Westville Hospital hosts World Vitiligo Day.  

Leading Dermatologists provide informative talks on latest treatment options, patient share their experiences and awareness about vitiligo is encouraged.  Mrs World joined us in 2017 to speak about her personal perspective.

Contact us here with your name and number if you would like to attend or join the Vitiligo Society of South Africa Support Group.

 

The VSSA also sends out a monthly newsletter  about different topics relating to the condition.  The newsletter is cleverly called "The Melanosite"!  

(FYI: a "Melanocyte" is the cell that makes pigment - these cells are destroyed in Vitiligo) 

New treatment for Vitiligo 

Suction Blister Grafting has recently been introduced in South Africa as a surgical treatment for Vitiligo.  

 

The basis of treatment is very interesting and shows just how far we have come in terms of Vitiligo treatment.  

 

It entails creating a few blisters on the thigh in an area of normal coloured skin.  It may take some time for the blisters to form.  An enzyme is then injected into the blisters, which helps to separate the cells in the different layers of the skin, including pigment cells.  

 

Once the cells are floating in the fluid within the blister, they are removed and transferred onto the vitiligo area.  The cells slowly incorporate within the skin and new pigment begins to form! 

 

Dont worry about the blisters that are made - these heal and start to look normal again after a short time.  

 

You may experience some pain, however, a numbing cream is applied to the thigh area of normal skin as well as vitiligo areas and local anaesthetic injections to numb the areas is also used.  The treatment isnt ideal for the hands, feet or face.  It is used for larger areas of Vitiligo on the legs, arms, etc.

 

The procedure holds a risk of infection, as with any surgical procedure.  It may be done in your Dermatologists office or in a day theatre, which is more sterile (a bug-free zone).  This decreases your chance of infection.  

 

The procedure may take a number of hours and does require you to relax at home for a few days.  It is more expensive than other treatments for Vitiligo but likely worth shelling out a few extra rands.

 

If you are interested in having this procedure or finding out more, do not hesitate to contact us.

 

Vitiligo Support groups 

Did you know that the Vitiligo Society of Southern Africa (VSSA) has initiated a Vitiligo support group in almost every province?  

 

Support group members receive access to meetings where new treatments for vitiligo are discussed.  This can be a valuable source of info for you and loved ones.  Sign up on their website www.vitiligosocietysa.com.

 

Read the study

Co-aurthored by Dr M Raboobee on Suction Blister Grafting - a new surgical treatment for certain types of Vitiligo

Vitiligo Study Suction Blister Grafting
Vitiligo study suction blister grafting
Vitiligo Study Suction blister grafting

Albinism

Albinism is a genetic condition, which means it is inherited. People are born with Albinism and cannot develop Albinism after birth.

 

Patients with Albinism have no melanin pigment in their skin. The eyes may also be affected causing the iris (the coloured part of the eye) to be light in colour).

 

Melanin protects the skin against sun damage.  Therefore, these patients develop sunburn very easily and must use sun protection daily and well as long sleeved clothing, a hat and sunglasses if the eyes are affected.  

 

If you have Albinism, you have a higher risk of developing skin cancers as well and must be examined regularly for suspicious lesions on the body.

 

© 2020 Dr M Raboobee

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