What is Segmental Vitiligo?
Segmental Vitiligo, also known as unilateral or localized vitiligo, is when the skin on one part of the body is unpigmented or loses its color and usually shows up as whitish patches. Unlike non-segmental vitiligo, segmental vitiligo is less common and presents itself asymmetrically on a person’s body. This condition tends to be more common in children, affecting every three in ten who already have vitiligo. When an individual has vitiligo, the affected skin becomes photosensitive to the sun’s UV rays, which can be more susceptible to sunburn or irritation.
Typically, skin that has segmental vitiligo will remain affected for the rest of a person’s life. The patches will usually spread on the person’s body for the first few years. It’s difficult to predict whether or not the patches will spread, and by how much. If/when they do spread, the time period can take days, weeks, or even months.
What Causes Segmental Vitiligo?
Localized vitiligo is caused by the lack of melanin in the body. When the melanocytes cells die off, melanin becomes less present and a lack of pigment occurs in the skin. What causes the lack of melanin is still unknown, but researchers have found that it is likely passed down genetically. Individuals who have direct family members with unilateral vitiligo are more likely to get it. Additionally, there has been a correlation with people who have permanent grey hair and the presence of the vitiligo gene. Thus, increasing a person’s likelihood of obtaining the condition. Autoimmune thyroid disease (Hashimoto’s thyroiditis) or type 1 diabetes, can also increase an individual’s odds.
Segmental Vitiligo Symptoms
A person will know if they have segmental vitiligo when one part of the body (arm, leg, face, hand) starts to develop a white patch or patches. The patches will develop quickly and may stay the same for a while. However, they might get bigger later on. These patches can also come in different cycles where pigment gets restored and remains stable but then resorts back to the condition.
Typically, the areas on the body affected by vitiligo include:
- Parts that are commonly exposed to the sun
- Areas where there are moles
- Around body openings
- Eyelids and hair
- Body folds (i.e armpits)
- Inside the mouth
The symptoms of this condition vary depending on the individual. When a person develops the white patches, they may experience hyperpigmentation (when the skin has a brownish discoloration), red or inflamed areas on the patches, and/or smooth or irregular edges of the patches. Nonetheless, moisturizers can be a great solution to combat some of these symptoms.
Segmental Vitiligo Treatment
As of today, there is no cure for vitiligo. However, there are a number of methods to improve the appearance of vitiligo. Some of these options include sunscreen, phototherapy with UVB and UVA light, tattooing, and using topical corticosteroids.
One great OTC (over-the-counter) solution for lessening the appearance of vitiligo is a skin camouflage or blending product like Chromelin. This is a waterproof skin dye used to darken areas of the skin that are affected by vitiligo, scars, or other causes. The product is formulated as a clear liquid so you can easily apply it to your skin to get the desired shade of your skin tone. Just a few drops on the unpigmented areas are enough to keep the areas color-matched to your desired skin tone for 3-10 days. Chromelin, sold by Summers Laboratories, is a great solution for individuals with skin discoloration caused by vitiligo or other conditions. Learn more about the product, how to apply it to your skin, and its ingredients today!