Vitiligo is a life-altering skin condition with no exact cause and long-lasting consequences. There is no complete cure for vitiligo and there is no way one can prevent it from spreading it too.
It may sound frightening, and several questions may cloud the mind like does vitiligo appear overnight? Can you wake up one day with white patches all over your body? In this article, we answer the progression of vitiligo, and what you can expect once affected.
Can Vitiligo Appear Overnight?
Yes, symptoms of vitiligo can be seen appearing in one night. Often, the first white spot appears in an area that is frequently exposed to the sun.
How Quickly Does Vitiligo Progress?
Vitiligo starts with a pale color patch on any part of the body which slowly turns completely white. In the center, the patch may look white with pale skin around the edges.
If the affected area has blood vessels beneath the skin, then the patch may appear a little pinkish rather than white. Most likely, it is first spotted on the face and genitals.
Over the next few months, the patches gradually spread to other areas of the body like the hands and the feet. This varies from different individuals.
Some may have a couple of white dots while some may be affected by giant white patches that get merged into each other and spread across broader areas of the body.
Vitiligo progresses based on the type of condition they have between segmental and non-segmental. While the white patches may be a constant in both, the way the patches present themselves is different.
Also known as focal vitiligo, segmental vitiligo appears on one side of the body hence the name segment. The symptoms of vitiligo in this condition are patches that are smaller in size and spread only to a limited area.
The patches start growing considerably for up to a year before slowing down in growth. Segmental vitiligo affects less commonly than non-segmental vitiligo. It usually starts early in life and hence mostly affects children.
In half of the segmental vitiligo cases, the changes in skin color are often followed by changes in hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes color too.
Non segmental vitiligo is the most common type of vitiligo out of the two. It accounts for almost 90 percent of vitiligo cases.
Non-segmental vitiligo is not restricted to a single side of the body. The white patches appear on both sides symmetrically. The affected area is not limited to a single area as well, it spans across the entire body.
The progression of these patches may be slower compared to segmental vitiligo where they appear only in one area of the body. The patches start and stop growing throughout the entire life. There is no way to predict when they may grow or stop growing.
Symmetrical patches can be seen on the arms, knees, elbows, feet, armpit, groin, navel, mouth, and even back of the hands and genitals. These are areas in which the skin rubs together frequently or is most exposed to the sun.
Any person, regardless of their age, gender, ethnicity, can be affected by non-segmental vitiligo. The patches don’t cause any soreness or discomfort. There is no irritation on the skin unless the edges get inflamed and turn red.
Doctors categorize non-segmental pigment loss on the body in the following subtypes,
Localized – Patches of white skin are limited to just one area of the body. They may also appear as a couple of spots on the body in a localized manner.
Generalized – Discolored white patches may appear on several areas of the body at once.
Universal – This condition is very rare. Most of the original skin color is lost in this sub-category.
Focal – When white patches start growing in discrete areas. This usually happens in adolescence.
Acrofacial – When white patches appear on the fingers or toes.
Mucosal – When white patches appear on the mucous membrane and lips.
There’s no final cure for vitiligo, home remedies are unlikely to have any effect. However, certain treatments may help even out the skin tone.
Milk Moustache Skin
According to the Traditional Chinese Five Element Medicine (TCM), milk mustache mirrors problems in the gastrointestinal system. The skin color above the lips shows what’s going on inside your stomach.
Discolored lips are suggestive of your gut health. Apparently, our modern lifestyle, environmental toxins, junk diet, stress, and pollution take a toll on it.
Pale and whitish color skin tone above the lips indicates malabsorption. Milk mustache skin in this sense may or may not be related to vitiligo. White borders surrounding the top lip suggest issues in the upper GI tract. If you notice a similar discoloration, it is time to modify your diet to target healthy digestion and absorption.
There is absolutely no way one can predict who and where and when vitiligo can show up. A combination of environmental stresses and genetics is known to trigger the reaction.
Once you are diagnosed with vitiligo, it can be an extremely stressful experience thereon. All you have got to understand is that vitiligo isn’t life-threatening. It should not get in the way of your normal routine in any way. Embracing your life with vitiligo should be the way to go forward.