Changes in the pigmentation of the skin, particularly vitiligo, can adversely affect the individual’s psychology, interaction with others, and self-esteem. The stigma associated with such disorders is more common when it affects the exposed parts of the body. Vitiligo can appear on any area of the body in different patterns. It is most commonly seen on the genitals, face, hands, and feet.
Acrofacial Vitiligo is the most common type of vitiligo seen in up to 80% of those affected by this disorder. In this post, let us try to understand the meaning, symptoms, and treatment methods for this form of vitiligo.
Acrofacial Vitiligo Meaning – A Complete Guide
Acrofacial Vitiligo is when the white spots appear mostly on the face along with hands and feet. Acral means hands and feet, hence the name. The disorder most frequently affects the face and hands so acrofacial vitiligo is more commonly seen as compared to other types like universal, lip-tip Vitiligo, generalized, or mucosal vitiligo.
The area of skin that can be affected by this condition varies from one person to another. The involved areas become white or lighter in color and may or may not spread to other areas. Though the exact cause of the condition is not yet clear, it is known to be related to heredity, immune system, or a trigger event like skin trauma, stress, or sunburn. The affected areas are more sensitive to sunlight as compared to the other parts.
Acrofacial Vitiligo Symptoms
Acrofacial vitiligo is a non-contagious condition that does not get transmitted to others. It can start appearing at any age though studies suggest that it commonly starts at around 20 years of age. The only symptom of acrofacial vitiligo is the appearance of light or white patches on the hands, feet, and face.
The earliest symptoms of acrofacial vitiligo include patchy loss of skin pigmentation on the face or hands. The first noticeable white spot is often seen in areas exposed to the sun. It starts with a simple flat spot that is a little lighter than the rest of the skin but keeps getting lighter with time until it becomes white.
The acrofacial vitiligo patches are not regularly shaped. Though these patches are flat, the edges can often become inflamed and slightly reddish, resulting in itchiness at times. However, vitiligo patches generally cause no irritation, dryness, soreness, or discomfort of the skin.
The appearance of patches also varies between individuals. Some people may develop only a few white spots that don’t progress while others may develop larger patches that progress to join with each other to create a large uneven skin area.
Acrofacial vitiligo is a type of non-segmental disorder that starts with toes and fingers in most cases. Up to 90 percent of cases are non-segmental vitiligo in which the first patches are symmetrical and the development is slower than if they were only in a single area of the body. The patches in this type of vitiligo appear equally on both sides of the body with a noticeable symmetry.
Though acrofacial vitiligo only causes the appearance of white patches, people with this condition are more likely to suffer from sunburn, loss of color in the interior lining of the nose and mouth, premature graying of hair on the beard, eyelashes, scalp, and eyebrows, hearing loss and vision problems. A person affected by vitiligo is also more likely to develop other autoimmune disorders like type 1 diabetes, Addison’s disease, pernicious anemia, thyroid, and more.
Acrofacial Vitiligo Treatments – Getting Started
The treatment of Acrofacial Vitiligo depends on the age of the patient, what area and how much skin is involved, how it is affecting the person’s life, and how quickly it is progressing.
The most popular treatment methods include light-based therapies and medications aimed at restoring skin color though results vary between individuals. These treatments also have some serious side effects, so most people are recommended topical products to change the appearance of patches.
However, if you decide to treat your acrofacial vitiligo with therapy, medications, or surgery, it may take months to judge the effectiveness of the treatment. You might also want to try multiple approaches or a combination of treatments to find out what works the best for your condition. Even if the treatment shows some success, the results may not be long-lasting and new patches may start showing up.
Here are some of the most used treatment methods for acrofacial vitiligo.
Medication – Doctors and practitioners generally prescribe oral drugs and topical creams to help repigment the skin and control inflammation or other effects occurring due to the condition.
Light therapy – The most common therapy is exposure to ultraviolet B lamps which is called UVB phototherapy. When combined with other treatments, it shows effective results on vitiligo. Another option is to use light therapy with a plant-based substance called psoralen to repigment white patches.
Depigmentation – This treatment method is used when vitiligo is quite widespread and other treatments don’t seem to work. In this technique, the unaffected areas of the skin are lightened with a depigmenting agent to get an even appearance.
Surgery – The most common type of surgical treatment for acrofacial vitiligo is skin grafting where sections of healthy skin are removed and used to cover small white patches on the hands or face. Blister grafting is another similar technique.
If the vitiligo is in its early stages, topical application of skin tanners and makeup is the safest option and other methods should be avoided. Some individuals also use tattooing to cover affected areas. Some home remedies, diet, and lifestyle changes also help improve the appearance of patches and signs and symptoms of the disorder.
Acrofacial Vitiligo Photos
Acrofacial vitiligo is a common type of vitiligo that affects most people. Though there is no proven treatment or medication yet available for the condition, the treatment options discussed here should help deal with the Vitiligo symptoms and improve the appearance of white patches.
Always consult the doctor or dermatologist to understand your vitiligo condition before trying these treatments and remember that it is just a health condition and not the end of the world.