woman with vitiligo

Vitiligo May Soon See New Treatment Options

Even in these days of positive body imaging, conditions such as vitiglio remain a challenge. While many women have come out in the shared desire to be appreciated despite weight issues, there is not such a platform for those with skin pigmentation conditions, which tend to be less common and less publicized. Sufferers of vitiglio often struggle with low self esteem, and are often the objects of unwanted attention in public places. Building awareness and acceptance about such condition is important, as is trying to find new treatment approaches. Here are some new thoughts and insights into the genetic disorder.

Genetic Predisposition
With new research comes new hope. Pearl E Grimes, MD and director of Vitiglio Pigmentation Institute of Southern California says that with the advancement of genetic research in the past ten years, “We now know that probably 90% of the genes the have been identified in vitiglio are immune-susceptibility genes, 10% are pigment related genes.” Because the condition is so often genetic, it can lead to “sick melanocytes.” This means, “Melanocytes from people with vitiglio do not grow as well in culture. There are probably some inherent defects in these melanocytes that may tie back to the genetics of the disease.”

Oxidative Stress
Another finding of the latest research points to oxidative stress as the event that starts off the immune dysfunction that culminates in vitiglio. Grimes says, “In vitiglio, we know that hydrogen peroxide is up, while catlase – a major oxidative stress fighting molecule is down.” The lack of the body’s ability to protect against oxidation may be what leads to the release of the antigens that play a role in destroying the melanocytes that lead to vitiglio.”

Raising Awareness
Dr Grimes relates a story of a beautiful 40 -year- old patient whose face caused a toddler to cry. “In response to that incident,” the patient said, “I don’t go out. I don’t date anymore, I have isolated myself, and I feel ugly.”

Grimes explains that vitiglio patients require a very long initial consolation. She says, “We take a very detailed history-looking at family history, a time of disease onset, disease progression, associated symptoms, associated autoimmune illnesses, and medications to tease out any other causative factors that may be contributing to pigment loss.”

Besides uncovering the physical causes, Dr. Grimes also stresses addressing the psychological impact of the condition. She steers aways from direct, overly probing questions, saying, “I go about it in a subdued, roundabout way -trying to let them talk about it first. I want them to be comfortable.” Instead of asking about the impact of the disease on the patient’s quality, she prefers to inquire about changes in daily routines. “Some will say, ‘I wear makeup all the time, even on my hands.'”

After performing a complete physical exam with photos and a laboratory assessment, Grimes reports that she is, “able to put together a treatment regimen based on the patient’s symptoms.” She is also able to assemble a health care team is needed, including a rheumatologist, immunologist, and mental health professional.

What can you do to raise awareness about vitiglio? Are these findings promising? Let us know what you think.

doctor checking a patient for thyroids

Thyroid Deficiencies And Your Skin

You walk into your doctor’s office. You tell him you are concerned because lately you notice your skin has become dry and wrinkled, your nails break easily, and you are losing hair from your head and eyebrows. He suggests that you balance your diet and get more vitamins.

According to the Thyroid Federation International, there are up to 300 million people in the world with thyroid dysfunction and, of that number, over half are presumed to not know it. Due to incomplete or outmoded testing methods and failure to recognize symptoms, hypothyroidism is one of the most commonly misdiagnosed or undiagnosed health problems in the world.

The thyroid gland produces hormones that help to balance your metabolism and keep your body weight and temperature regulated. According to Dr. Broda Barnes, author of “Hypothyroidism: the Unsuspected Illness”, “When thyroid function is low, circulation is reduced. In advanced cases of hypothyroidism, the skin, in fact, may receive as little as one fourth to one fifth the normal blood supply.” As a result, hypothyroidism , or under- active thyroid, can cause your skin to retain fluids, it may create bags under the eyes and bloating in your legs, ankles, and fingers as well as cracked heels, colorless skin, and eczema.

Myxodema
Myxodema is skin swelling caused by deposits of sugar called glucosaminoglycans. It is a result of insufficient production of hormones by the thyroid gland, which is also responsible for regulation of metabolism. Myxodema is most likely to occur when hypothyroidism goes without treatment for an extended period and can have serious complications. The condition can be treated with thyroid replacement hormones which will help alleviate the symptoms.

Vitiglio
Vitiglio is a pigmentation disorder that is frequently associated with autoimmune thyroid disease. Its symptoms include white patches on the skin, hair and eyebrows, and in severe cases, may result in the total loss of color from the skin. It usually precedes thyroid disfunction by many years, which makes it necessary for those with the skin disorder to be screened before hyperthyroidism develops.It can be treated medically with creams, oral medications, ultraviolet light, and removing color from other areas of skin so tone appears more even. It can be treated surgically with skin grafting and tattooing.

Hyperthyrhoidism
Hyperthyrhoidism is cause by too much thyroid hormone. It can make skin smooth and moist and prone to flushing and redness. Skin may become thin in some areas, whereas it may become thick and hyper pigmented (darker) in others, and may become extremely dry. Pretibal myxedema is another skin condition caused by hyperthyroidism which effects the front of the legs. Symptoms include hives and itching based on the increased action of hormones metabolizing carbohydrates, proteins and fats. These conditions can be treated with hypoallergenics.

If you have any of these symptoms, it is important that you tell your doctor you need to be tested for hormone imbalance. Early detection can prevent severe symptoms from occurring.

woman trying to pop a pimple

Common Skin Symptoms Triggered By Auto- Immune Disease

Vitiligo is just one of the skin symptoms triggered by an autoimmune disorder. It¬†affect not only the health and daily lives of the sufferers but also their self-esteem. An autoimmune disorder occurs when the body’s immune system fails to distinguish between healthy cells and harmful ones (antigens) and begins to destroy healthy tissue. Symptoms include fever, fatigue, joint pain and rashes. It is important to have an awareness of these skin disorders in order to recognize and understand them in ourselves and others and to ensure public support.

Psoriasis
Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin condition that results from the overactivity of skin cells. The skin cells of a psoriasis sufferer form too quickly and the old skin cannot be shed quickly enough to accommodate it. The results are silvery scales or red itchy patches on the elbows, lower back, and scalp. It is treatable with prescription creams, phototherapy, and oral and injectable medicines.

Vitiligo
Vitiligo causes the body to destroy melanocytes, which are cells that produce pigment. This causes patches of skin to lighten. These lightened patches can appear on the inside of the mouth, the hair and the eyes. In severe cases of vitiligo, skin loses all of its pigment and becomes completely white.
While there is no known cure for vitiligo , treatments are available to restore pigment and even out skin tone. They range from foundation and cover-up to topical medications. Tattooing and skin grafting are other treatment options.

Lupus
Lupus is an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks tissues and organs causing inflammation. Its most common symptom is a butterfly-shaped rash across the cheeks and nose. Lesions may form after sun exposure. Lupus can be treated with immunosuppressants, antimalarial drugs, corticosteroids and anti -inflammatories.

 

Dermatomyositis
Another inflammatory disease, dermatomyositis causes a rash on the eyelids and face, shoulders, back and upper chest and knuckles. Symptoms include trouble breathing, muscle weakness, and difficulty swallowing. It most commonly affects children between 5 and 15 and adults between 40 and 60. It can be treated with corticosteroids and immunosuppressants. While in children, the symptoms may completely disappear, the disorder may be a sign of an additional underlying disease and could lead to lung failure.

Pernicious Anemia
In cases of pernicious anemia, the cells of the body attack the stomach cells and make it hard for the intestines to get the vitamin B12 necessary for the formation of red blood cells. The result is extremely pale skin, bleeding gums, a swollen tongue, loss of appetite and fatigue. It usually responds successfully to Vitamin B12 shots and supplements.

If any of these symptoms seem familiar to you, see the dermatologist to determine whether it is just a skin condition or a symptom of something else. We also invite you to share your experiences and raise awareness about the effects of autoimmune disease.