Alternative names : Vitiligo and white patches on the skin
What is leucoderma (vitiligo)?
Leucoderma, also known as vitiligo, is a distressing skin condition. The word literally means white skin. There is a gradual loss of pigment melanin from the skin layers which results in white patches. These patches look ugly, especially in persons with dark complexions. Vitiligo is a skin condition in which there is loss of pigment from areas of skin resulting in irregular white patches with normal skin texture. Leucoderma (Vitiligo) is common; in fact 1 to 2% of the general population has it.
The condition does not cause any organic harm. It, however, brings about great psychological tension to the patient who is more embarrassed than the victim of any pain or discomfort. The condition thus, besides being a medical problem, also becomes a social stigma.
Leucoderma is a fairly common disorder and it affects one percent or more of the world’s population. The incidence is a little higher in India. The disorder can occur at any age in either sex in normal skin. It is, however, more common in women than men. The most affected areas are the hands, the neck, the back and the wrist in that order.
The problem usually starts with a small white spot and later on it develops into patches. These patches are pale in the beginning but become whiter and whiter as time passes due to loss of pigment. As spots enlarge, they merge into each other and, in course of time, form a very broad patch. In some cases, most of the skin of the body may be covered with white patches. The spread of the disorder is usually slow and progressive. Symmetrical appearance on both the sides of the body (say, on the legs, hands, etc.) is common. In rare cases one finds vitiligo spreading all over the body.
The exact cause for the leucoderma (vitiligo) remains unknown. Many wrong beliefs are prevalent about the causes of leucoderma. It is not caused by eating fish and drinking milk at the same time, as is generally believed because even vegetarians suffer from this disorder. Other food combinations such as pumpkin and milk, onion and milk as possible causes of leucoderma also have no basis. leucoderma (vitiligo) is not caused by any germs, nor is it due to bad blood. Some of the possible causes for Vitiligo includes :
- Skin trauma.
- Mental worry (stress).
- Heredity is also causative factor and about 30 percent of patients have history of the disorder.
- Physical illness
Is leucoderma contagious?
No! Leucoderma (Vitiligo) is not contagious i.e. it cannot spread by touching someone or even by handling personal belongings or food.
Home Remedies for Leucoderma
1. Psoralea Seeds
The use of seeds of psoralea. Seeds should be steeped in the juice of ginger or cow’s urine for three days. The fluids should be renewed every day. The seeds should then be rubbed with hands to remove their husks, dried in the shade and powdered. One gram of this powder should be taken every day with fresh milk for 40 days continuously. The ground seeds should also be applied to the white spots.
2. Babchi Seeds
Babchi seeds, combined with tamarind seeds, are also useful. Equal quantity of both the seeds should be steeped in water for three to four days. They should then be shelled and dried in the shade. They should be ground into paste and applied to the white patches for a week. If the application of this paste causes itching or the white spots become red and a fluid begins to ooze out, it should be discontinued. If there is no itching or reddening, babchi seeds should be taken also for 40 days.
3. Red Clay
Another useful remedy for leucoderma is red clay found by the river side or on hill slopes. The clay should be mixed in ginger juice and applied over the white spots once a day. The copper contained in the clay seems to bring back skin pigmentation and ginger juice serves as a milk stimulant, facilitating increased blood flow to the spots.
4. Radish Seeds
A paste made from the seeds of the radish is valuable in treating leucoderma. About 35 grams of these seeds should be powdered in vinegar and applied on the white patches. For better results, seeds should be finely pounded, mixed with a little white arsenic and soaked in vinegar at night. After two hours, when leaves appear, it should be rubbed on. the leucoderma patches.
5. Turmeric and Mustard Oil
The use of turmeric and mustard oil is also considered beneficial in the treatment of leucoderma. About 500 gms, of turmeric should.be pounded and soaked in eight kgs. of water at night. It should be heated in the morning till only one kg. of water is left. It should then be strained and mixed with 500 gms. of mustard oil. This mixture should be heated till only the oil is left. It should be applied on white patches every morning and evening for a few months.
Prevention tip for Leucoderma
The patient should avoid tea, coffee, alcoholic beverages and all condiments and highly flavoured dishes.