10/04/2022 / Beauty, Skin and Hair

Leucoderma: Causes, symptoms and treatment

Leucoderma or vitiligo is the white skin disease name that occurs due to loss of pigment in skin. With no cure, the leucoderma treatment will help to reduce progression.

Leucoderma: Causes, symptoms and treatment
Manasa Krishna PerumallaManasa Krishna Perumalla

Manasa Krishna Perumalla

B.Pharm, Research Associate

Table of Content

What is leucoderma?

Leucoderma is commonly called vitiligo. It is a long-term skin disorder characterized by patches on the skin. The white patches on the vitiligo skin are due to loss of pigmentation. The affected vitiligo skin will become white and usually have sharp margins.

Why is vitiligo or leucoderma called white skin disease?

  • Leucoderma is a skin disorder that makes your skin lose its natural color. The white area on the skin is called ‘macules’ if present less than 5 mm and called ‘patches’ if larger than 5 mm. Even the hair on any vitiligo skin turns white.

  • The loss of skin color in leukoderma is due to reduced melanocytes [the cells that produce melanin and are the reason for the skin color or pigmentation]. The production of melanocytes is destroyed by the body’s immune system in leucoderma conditions.

  • Around 2-3% of people around the world are prone to leucoderma. In India, almost 8% of the population is affected by leucoderma.

2 different types of leucoderma

Leucoderma is classified into 2 types: segmental vitiligo and nonsegmental vitiligo. Nonsegmental vitiligo is a common type of vitiligo.

1. Segmental vitiligo

Also called Unilateral vitiligo. Differs in cause, appearance and frequency of associated illnesses. The treatment of segmental vitiligo is also different from non segmental vitiligo. Segmental vitiligo has weaker association with autoimmune diseases. 

2. Non segmental vitiligo

Also called Bilateral vitiligo, Vitiligo vulgaris or Generalised vitiligo. Non segmental vitiligo often begins with rapid loss of skin color, and the color loss often starts up later.

Nonsegmental vitiligo is generally classified into following types: 

  • Universal vitiligo: Depigmentation is covered on most of the body. This is very rare.

  • Generalised vitiligo: Wide and randomly distributed areas of depigmentation. 

  • Focal vitiligo: One or few scattered macules in one area and is most common in children

  • Acrofacial vitiligo: Mostly occurred on fingers and periorificial areas

  • Mucosal vitiligo: Depigmentation of only the mucous membrane is observed

Here below you can find the differences between the segmental and nonsegmental vitiligo

Differences between the segmental and nonsegmental vitiligo

What are the symptoms of leukoderma?

Symptoms of Leukoderma

Leucoderma is basically asymptomatic but can be diagnosed by physical appearance. The leucoderma symptoms include.

  • White spots due to loss of pigmentation on the -

    • Skin

    • Hair (scalp, eyebrow, eyelash, bread)

    • Eyes

    • Mouth (lips- lip leucoderma)

    • Genitals

  • Premature grey or white color change of your hair, head and face.

  • Presence of pale patchy areas on light skin.

  • You may observe inflammation of the ears or eyes, leading to hearing loss and vision problems.

What are the complications in leucoderma?

  • You may suffer from psychosocial and cosmetic effects.

  • You will become more susceptible to sunburns and development of skin cancers.

Other diseases similar to leucoderma condition

There are some other conditions similar to leucoderma that make skin change or loss of pigmentation -

Chemical leucoderma

The damage caused by the industrial chemicals to the skin cells will result in linear or splotchy white spots on skin which appears similar to the leucoderma.

Albinism

Albinism is the genetic condition that occurs due to lower melanin production in the skin, hair, eyes.

Tinea versicolor

This is caused by the yeast infection which creates dark spots that show on light skin, or light spots that are visible on darker skin.

Pityriasis alba

The red and scaly areas of skin are the beginning of this condition that fades into scaly lighter patches of skin eventually.

3 Main causes of leucoderma

3 Main causes of leucoderma

Leucoderma is believed to be an autoimmune disorder that has been potentially triggered due to immune system disorder. Genetic susceptibility and environmental factors are responsible for autoimmune diseases like leukoderma. 

Although there are multiple hypotheses about the cause of leucoderma the changes in the immune system are considered the main cause.

1. Immune system

Leukoderma is caused due to variations in the genes that are part of the immune system. Variation in the melanocytes is thought to have occurred or caused by the destruction of melanocytes by the immune system that leads to reduced pigmentation on the skin.

2. Autoimmune disorders

Leukoderma is associated with other autoimmune disorders and inflammatory disorders such as hashimoto's thyroiditis, scleroderma, rheumatoid arthritistype 1 diabetes mellituspsoriasisaddison's diseasepernicious anemiaalopecia areata, systemic lupus erythematosus, and celiac disease

3. Congenital abnormalities

Leukoderma can be caused due to congenital abnormalities like tuber sclerosis, partial albinism, waardenburg syndrome, and piebaldism.

Leucoderma can also be caused due to the intake of medications like intralesional steroid injections, EGFR inhibitors. Leucoderma is caused when your skin is exposed to certain chemicals like butyl phenol.

How does leucoderma spread?

Leucoderma usually starts with small patches which gradually increase in size and spread all over the body over the course of time. Leucoderma generally appears on the hands, feet, forearms, and face and will develop on any part of the body. Leukoderma can be seen on mucous membranes [moist linings] like mouth, nose, genital, and rectal areas. Even the eyes and inner ears are affected by leukoderma.

Leucoderma can spread and continue into large and wide patches with time. The location and area of occurrence differ in all individuals. In some, the patches stay the same for several years, in others the macules shift or change over time. The change in the size of the patches is due to the skin loss or regain of the pigmentation over years.

Who is prone to leukoderma?

Leucoderma is seen in people of all ages among both males and females. Due to some cosmetic concerns, females are predominant and more prone to leukoderma. Leucoderma is more apparent on black skin than in ethnic white skin. It is difficult to determine the prevalence rate of leukoderma based on genetics.

Ratio of leucoderma in Males versus Females

How is leukoderma diagnosed? 

  • Your doctor will conduct an examination on your skin to differentiate the condition from other skin diseases like psoriasis or dermatitis. Leucoderma is diagnosed by ultraviolet light in the early stages of leukoderma. This also helps to understand the effectiveness of the treatment. 

  • Some dermatologists may do more than physical examination with biopsy to see whether melanocytes are present in the skin. When your skin lacks melanocytes, it indicates the presence of vitiligo. 

  • A blood test is conducted to check for any underlying autoimmune disorder. Even an eye exam for uveitis is conducted, a form of eye inflammation that is associated with vitiligo. 

Home remedies of leucoderma 

  • Apply mustard oil and turmeric paste on the vitiligo skin

  • Practice yoga poses for leucoderma such as Nadi Shodhana Pranayama, Bhramari Pranayama, Sitkari Pranayama, Sitali Pranayama, kapalbhati

  • Increase the consumption of zinc (8-11mg per day) with foods like meat, legumes, hot cereals and copper(1-3 mg per day) with food like legumes, potato, nuts, seeds and meat

  • Take honey juice and crushed margosa leaves to reduce the white spots

Foods to eat and avoid in leucoderma cure

Foods need to be taken in high and low quantity and foods need to be avoided are -

Foods to eat and avoid in leucoderma cure

Precautions to prevent leucoderma

Even though there is no scientific evidence some people claim to prevent vitiligo with the following tips:

  • Drinking plenty of water can boost the body’s immune system that helps prevent leucoderma.

  • Eating green leafy vegetables, fruits like bananas, and apples will help prevent leucoderma.

  • The white spots on skin due to loss of pigmentation can be prevented by avoiding consumption of alcohol, coffee, fish, and red meat.

  • The consumption of foods that contain vitamin B, vitamin C, amino acids and folic acids will prevent the occurrence of white patches.

  • Skin pigment cells are destroyed during wounds, burns or sunburns. Avoiding deep skin wounds and burns will prevent leucoderma.

What is the leucoderma treatment?

Leucoderma has no cure but several treatment options are available. The treatment of vitiligo consists of steroids that may improve the appearance of the skin but doesn’t cure the disease. 

Immune mediators

Immunosuppressive drugs will help to reduce immune response against the melanocytes that cause depigmentation of the skin. 

Topical preparations like leukoderma creams of immune suppressing medications like glucocorticoids (such as 0.05% clobetasol or 0.10% betamethasone) and calcineurin inhibitors (such as tacrolimus or pimecrolimus) are considered to be first-line of leucoderma treatment.

Phototherapy

Phototherapy is the second line of treatment for leucoderma, where the skin is exposed to the UV light. The phototherapy treatment can be done at home using UVB lamps. The time period of treatment may vary from a few weeks to months based on the area of vitiligo skin. Some people may not see any change in the skin condition. 

Skin camouflage

Makeup can be used to mask the de-pigmentation skin. The affected skin is prevented from tanning to make the patches less visible on pale skinned people. 

De-pigmentation

You can obtain an even color in the extensive cases of leucoderma with the topical drugs such as monobenzone, mequinol or hydroquinone to render skin an even color. 

Now let’s understand the ayurvedic and homeopathic treatments of leucoderma.

What is the leucoderma treatment in ayurveda?

The treatment of leucoderma in ayurveda uses herbal medicines to treat leucoderma. Panchkarma therapies like virechana, basti and vamana are used in the process to strengthen the immune system of the body.

Virechana

The virechana therapy helps to remove toxins from the body which is also called purgative therapy.

The disorders of pitta are treated by virechana therapy. The virechana therapy used in the ayurveda treatment of leucoderma cure cleanses the pitta (stomach) and small intestine. This is one of the most efficient leucoderma treatments in ayurveda.

Basti therapy

Also called as enema therapy is the ayurvedic treatment for leucoderma. The basti therapy purifies the colon thus removing the vata from the body. It is one of the best leucoderma treatments in ayurveda.

Vamana

Vamana is the other most effective vitiligo treatment in ayurveda. Vasantika vamana is used for preventive therapy for a disease of kapha origin such as eczema.

The ayurvedic medicine for leucoderma is discussed below- 

Ayurvedic medicine for leucoderma

Ayurvedic medicine for leucoderma

The treatment in ayurveda includes medication like:

Bakuchi (Psoralea Corylifolia)

Bakuchi helps you to reduce vitiligo and also rejuvenates the skin. The bakuchi helps in leucoderma treatment by slowly and gradually decreasing the white spots caused due to loss of pigmentation on skin

The powders like khadir (skin) powder, chitrak (root) powder, jatamansi (root) powder and amalaki (fruit) powder are different ayurvedic medicines for leucoderma. Along with these powders, practicing phototherapy (natural) and panchakarma will have good results in leucoderma symptoms.

Manjistha (Rubia Cordifolia)

Manjistha can be one of the best options if you are anxious about vitiligo and looking for a permanent treatment with less side effects. Manjistha is the ayurvedic medicine for leucoderma that has many other beneficial properties. This ayurvedic medicine for leucoderma helps to restore the skin color and also prevents further progression of the leucoderma.

Neem (Azadirachta Indica)

The free radicals in the body are reduced with the use f neem in ayurvedic medicine treatment for leucoderma. The neem has antioxidant properties that can also protect the melanocytes from the damage caused due to free radicals and thus prevent leucoderma progression.

Haritaki (Terminalia Chebula)

Haritaki helps to remove free radicals that damage the melanocytes and it also has antioxidant properties. Haritaki is another ayurvedic medicine for leucoderma or vitiligo treatment that is highly recommended in severe cases of leucoderma. 

The haritaki also helps to prevent anxiety and depression in people suffering from vitiligo. The patients with psychological complications can opt for haritaki.

Giloy(Tinospora Cordifolia)

Giloy is found near your home and rural areas that can be used not merely for vitiligo but for many other health issues. Giloe is the ayurvedic medicine for leucoderma treatment that prevents destruction of melanocytes by the immune cells. Giloy helps in the reduction of the symptoms of vitiligo.

Khadira (Acacia Catechu)

The use of khadira at the initial stages of the disease can cure the disease. Khadira is the answer for the leucoderma cure at the early phases of diagnosis. The kadhira has the potential to decrease white patches present on the skin and helps to cure leucoderma as soon as possible when you use it on a regular basis.

What is the leucoderma treatment in homeopathy?

  • Homeopathy treatment treats the root cause by correcting the dysfunction or overactivity of the immune system. The homeopathy treatment for leucoderma stimulates the pigmentation of melanin in the body to regain the normal skin colour. 

  • The leucoderma treatment in homeopathy is safe, effective and gives long-lasting relief with less side effects. Homeopathy treatment of leucoderma controls the further spread and progression of vitiligo.

  • Well selected homeopathy medicines try to modify the genetic disposition. The duration of the treatment cannot be predicted but as per the studies, the treatment will take 4 to 8 weeks. 

Here are the most effective homeopathic medications for leucoderma treatment that can minimize leucoderma symptoms.The homeopathic medicine for leucoderma treatment is discussed below-

Homeopathic medicine for leucoderma

Homeopathic medicine for leucoderma
  • Calcarea Carb - This helps in preventing the loss of pigmentation in skin and occurrence of white spots

  • Arsenic Album - Asrinic is the homeopathic medicine for leucoderma prescribed for vitiligo people with dry or rough skin

  • Sepia - Sepia is another homeopathy medicine for leucoderma that benefits to reduce the vitiligo symptoms

  • Silicea - Silicea is used in the leucoderma or vitiligo that shows excellent results

  • Sulfur - Sulphur is used as ointment for leucoderma cure which helps to reduce any skin condition

  • Ars Sulph Flavum - Ars sulph flavum is considered as one of the most effective and rarest homeopathy medicine for leucoderma cure

  • Hydrocotyle Asiatica - This homeopathy medicine for leucoderma helps to regain pigmentation on the discoloured skin

  • Kali Carb - The kali carb is used to treat dryness of the skin at white spots all over the body that cause burning sensation.

Take-home points

  • It is better to consult a doctor as soon as you observe any white spot on your skin.

  • Leucoderma causes loss of pigmentation at the site of injury which does not go away after the wound fades.

  • The ointments for leucoderma when applied on a regular basis can help regain the natural skin colour.

  • The leucoderma can be caused on hair, skin, eyes, mouth, lips (lip leucoderma), genitals.

  • Immediate consultation with a dermatologist helps to reduce the spread of white skin disease, vitiligo.

  • Vitiligo skin  has no cure till now, but there are many treatment options in ayurveda, homeopathy and allopathy.

  • Use sunscreen lotions or UV protection creams for leucoderma to protect yourself from burning sensation.


FAQ on Leucoderma causes, symptoms and treatment?

1. Will doing yoga cure leucoderma?

Ans. Yoga helps to prevent the progression of vitiligo symptoms and improves immunity.

2. What is the age for occurrence of leucoderma?

Ans. Vitiligo symptoms can start at any age, usually before 30 yrs of age.

3. Is vitiligo a fungal or bacterial infection?

Ans. No, vitiligo or leucoderma is an autoimmune disorder caused due to reduced immunity.

4. Can I test leucoderma at home?

Ans. No test is available for leucoderma symptoms diagnosis at home.

5. How fast do leucoderma spread?

Ans. Leucoderma spreads very quickly for 6 months to 1 year after the initiation.

6. Does vitiligo or leucoderma cause white people?

Ans. Vitiligo is a white skin disease that is caused for all types of skin colours and skin types.


References

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