Friday, November 25, 2011

What are the white spots?

VitiligoImage via Wikipedia
One of the difficult things about growing up is being different.  We are all different in one way or another.  Most of us are different in several ways.  Being young can be especially hard for people that are different. 

I remember in school we had a new kid that was from a couple of towns over.  He would say things like 'straight up.'  He probably watched too much tv.  If I remember right, he only lasted a few weeks before he left school.  Someone told me that he left because he was getting bullied too much.  But he seemed to me pretty similar to the other kids. 

Vitiligo of the hand in a person with dark skin.Image via Wikipedia
One thing that made me different was vitiligo.  It's a skin condition where parts of the body lose their coloration.  It's not contagious.  It doesn't hurt, or cause any long term problems, except for maybe making sunburn more probable.  But it does look different.  I remember when I was about 13 I got some turtle neck sweaters for Christmas.  I had some vitiligo on my neck, and whoever gave them to me figured I'd want to hide the vitiligo.  At that point I didn't really stress out about the ones on my neck.  I couldn't see them, never really looked in a mirror much because I didn't care about my appearance.  I never wore them because they were itchy. 

Michael Jackson with two fans at the Kahala Hi...Image via Wikipedia
Later on it definitely was hard.  Spot.  Patch.  Leper.  Freak.  Gross.  Get away from me.  One teacher felt the need to explain to the entire class that people that have white patches on their skin get it because they are descendants of both black and white people.  This kind of thinking comes from the slavery South.  In order to justify slavery, racists claimed that white people and black people were from different species, and that inter-marriage of the two a kind of physical oil and water effect where a person literally had separate white and black parts.  As you can imagine, this breaks down very quicly and can be shown to be false in a number of ways. 

VitiligoImage via Wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_skin_color  To put it in overly simple terms, present scientific thought is that too much or too little vitamin D is bad.  Peoples that have tended to spend too much time in the sun become darker to reduce vitamin D levels absorbed by the skin from the sun, for example equatorial peoples.  Peoples that haven't gotten enough sun and therefore vitamin D become lighter so that their bodies will absorb more sunlight.  I think there are some holes in this theory, but it's all science has right now.  Maybe epigenetics will help. 

VitiligoImage via Wikipedia
So where does vitiligo come into play in all of this?  It doesn't.  People of all skin colors get vitiligo similarly.  It is found everywhere on earth.  The best idea I see as to a cause at this point is that it is an auto-immune disorder.  The cells in our skin that react to the sun and darken are called melanin.  Our white blood cells mistake the melanin cells (melanocytes?) as being bad, and then destroy them.  All the rest of the skin cells are fine.  The skin is healthy, though it does sunburn easily. 

A man affected by the vitiligo around the left...Image via Wikipedia
Of course there are a number of other skin problems that look like vitiligo, at least to those that don't know any better.  And Michael Jackson didn't help things.  People with vitiligo don't gradually get whiter evenly over their whole bodies.  It's bit by bit, with sections being completely white or the normal skin color.  Nothing in between.  No gradual change.  Michael Jackson became gradually white because of skin treatments that he had done to cover up his vitiligo, not because of the disorder itself. 

DSC_8038Image by juan.barredo via Flickr
The "final solution" to vitiligo is to permanently bleach the rest of your skin to that you have even coloring.  This isn't inevitable by any means.  Many people get one or two spots, and no more for the rest of their lives.  Sometimes the spots return to normal color.  About 1 in 75 people get vitiligo at some point in their lives. 

For more info, google vitiligo.  :)
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2 comments:

Naturalherbs Solutions said...

There are many different vitiligo natural treatment are used in market for get rid of vitiligo naturally. Natural Herbs Clinic,s herbal remedy is made with pure herbal ingredients and is very effective for the solution of vitiligo without any side effects.

Naturalherbs Solutions said...

Here is the method to use Natural Herbs Clinic’s Herbal Remedy for vitiligo Natural Treatment. Number of other vitiligo treatment is accessible for example cut papaya fruit into dissimilar pieces. Rub papaya pieces on white spots. Dry it naturally and apply other pieces of papaya. You can drink papaya juice every day to relieve melanin cells produced by vitiligo. Do it each day to obtain noticeable effects.