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 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 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 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.
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.
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.