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Question:

From Cairo, Egypt:

My 8 year old daughter had vitiligo. It is small white patches on her tummy, knees, chin, cheeks, eyebrows and her left leg. Is there any new treatment for vitiligo? If not, what shall I do?

Answer:

Vitiligo is an autoimmune disorder of the skin which is now recognized as being, like Type 1 diabetes, part of a group of autoimmune diseases which also includes Addison's disease [adrenal gland failure], pernicious anemia, gonadal failure and thyroid disease. This group of disorders is sometimes called the autoimmune polyendocrine syndromes.

Vitiligo presents as multiple depigmented, oval or irregularly shaped flat skin discolorations, often symmetrically distributed over the extremities and around the body orifices. It has been recognized that the melanocytes [the cells of the skin that make the pigments] are absent in vitiliginous skin, in the same autoimmune-like manner as diabetic patients lose pancreatic islet cells. Patients with vitiligo should also be followed closely for the development of thyroid disease.

As you have imagined, there are no specific treatment for vitiligo.

MS

Original posting 6 Oct 97

  
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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:08:54
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