Vitiligo is a rare skin disorder that causes the skin to lose its color and form smooth white patches in different parts of the body. It is also termed as Leucodermia, which means ‘to have white skin’. It is an autoimmune condition, wherein, the immune cells of our body attack the functioning of healthy organs. In this case, the melanocytes or the skin cells that produce melanin, responsible for providing skin color and texture, are destroyed by the body’s immune system. Also, if the spot is less than 5mm it will be termed as macules and patches for the spot greater than that.
Vitiligo is not so rare but rare to be found as approximately 2% of the total population and an estimated 2 to 5 million suffer from it. Vitiligo is expected to start showing its effects from an early age of 10 and in most cases fully developed until the age of 40. There is no evident proof that vitiligo follows a genetic transmission but nearly around 30% of the affected patients have a family member with this disease.
Vitiligo progresses with a few small patches that may spread over large body parts within the course of few months. It usually begins on hands, forearms, feet, and face but has the capacity to spread to any part of the body, including the inner ear and genitals. In severe types, the patch spreads to a larger area and is able to grow every year. However, in most cases, the same patch developed at an early age remains stuck for a lifetime. Luckily, it is not a transmissible disease and hence, you cannot catch it from someone else.
Causes of Vitiligo
Vitiligo is primarily caused with the presence of autoimmune condition which depletes the melanin present in skin cells of some body parts. However, factors like genetic transmission and other specific health disorders were observed to some extent as well. Let’s explore them hereby:
- Autoimmunity – As discussed in the above paragraph, vitiligo is considered to be an autoimmune condition. This condition can be the root cause for the general type of vitiligo, which is the most commonly seen. This causes the immunity of our body to attack the melanocyte skin cells which result reduces the amount of melanin to form smooth white patches.
- Genetic Factor – Although there isn’t any evidence that proves that vitiligo can pass from someone’s heir, it is studied that somewhere 30% of the individuals affected have one or more family members suffering from this disease.
- Neurogenic Aspect – A substance or an enzyme that is toxic to melanocytes may be released from the nerve endings in the skin.
- Self-destruction – An injury caused that destroyed melanocytes to some extent can be one of the common causes.
- Melanoma – It is a type of skin cancer and can also be termed as Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. Having this severe skin disease can also lead to an autoimmune condition and may cause loss of melanin.
- Chemical Exposure – Sunburn or some sort of chemical attack on the skin also makes the melanin lose from melanocytes.
Ayurveda Treatment for Vitiligo
In Ayurveda, vitiligo is described as Shwetakushta or Switra or Kilasa which are a hierarchal branch of Kushta Rogas (skin diseases). It is caused by the imbalance in Vata Dosha which refers to the physical surroundings and how our body reacts to it accordingly.
As per Ayurveda-based backing, Switra or Vitiligo can be divided in the following types:
- Daruna – The patches will be in red color if this condition vitiates the rakhta dhatu (blood)
- Aruna – The patches turn coppery in texture if this condition vitiates the muscle tissues of the affected body part
- Kilasa – This is the most common type of vitilgo in Ayurveda. It entails that the patches will turn smooth white if this condition vitiates the fat tissue of the affected body part.
Similar to the treatment of other skin and infection-based disorders, Ayurveda promotes the process of purification and detoxification to remove all unnecessary toxins from the skin cells. This methodology adopted comes from the traditional belief that ‘beauty lies beneath. This suggests that the healthy functioning of our body from the inside will direct the improvements in curing complicated skin disorders. Ranging from changes in dietary schedule to adopting home-based remedial therapies, Ayurveda has got it all covered to effectively cure vitiligo.
It is recommended that the consumption of nutritiously rich foods which are easy to digest can enhance the working of digestive system. This sort of enhancement will improve the blood circulation and the ability to respond to all Ayurveda based medications as effective as possible.
Following are some key notions to formulate an effective dietary schedule:
- Having light meals
- Fixed meal timings and an equal share of time period between them
- Inclusion of rice, wheat and leafy green foods in daily diet
- Include gourd family vegetables like bitter-gourd and ridged gourd in your diet
- Recommended to avoid caffeine-based and alcoholic beverages
- To avoid strong/highly flavored which have excess of sodium in them
- Limiting the intake sugar in daily. This varies on the individual’s diabetic levels.
- Avoid vegetable roots and tubers like potato, carrot, and black gram
- Avoid consumption of tinned or bottled foods and aquatic animals
Ayurveda-based herbal medications can provide an impacting relief as it corrects the underlying cause of the illness from its root and cures the condition for a long-term basis. Following can be some of the healing options available in Ayurveda to treat vitiligo:
- Bakuchi (Psoralea Corylifolia) – This is the most commonly used medication in Ayurveda to treat the condition of vtiligo. Although, it shows slow results but will be highly effective in the long run to rejuvenate the skin tone. It incorporates various ayurvedic powders which can efficiently collaborate with therapies like Panchkarma and phototherapy.
- Manjistha (Rubia Cordifolia) – This herbal medication can be relied upon if the expectations are to get rid of the white patches permanently. This herb possesses several strong properties that are beneficial in the management of various diseases including Vitiligo.
- Neem (Azadirachta Indica) – Neem possesses several anti-oxidant properties which will not only reduce the symptoms of vitiligo but shall also prevent the melanocytes from getting damaged.
- Haritaki (Terminalia Chebula) – Similar to that of Neem, Haritaki includes various anti-oxidant properties which prevents the spread of vitiligo due to the presence autoimmune condition. This herb also acts as an anti-depressant which helps the patients to get relieved from the psychological aspect of the condition.
Vitiligo is a rare skin disorder that causes the skin to lose its color infractions and makes it look like a smooth white patch. Being an autoimmune condition, the melanocytes present in melanin (responsible for providing skin color and texture) are depleted from a particular body part. Although, vitiligo can appear almost anywhere body parts like hands, forearms, feet, and face are commonly affected. Apart from the presence of the autoimmune condition, vitiligo can be rarely transmitted via genetic factors involved. It is so as at least 25% of the individuals suffering have some family member with Vitiligo.
The Ayurveda-backed vitiligo treatments involve the mechanism of purification and detoxification to eradicate all toxins from the body. This methodology helps in cleansing away the harmful toxins in the affected area and improves the skin tone. Ayurveda recommends having simplified dietary alterations that will enable the digestive system to effectively circulate the consumption of herbal medications. Herbs like Bakuchi, Manjishtha, Neem, and Haritaki are commonly preferred to help reduce the symptoms and improve the skin tone on long-term basis.
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