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You are here : home > Health > General Health > Leucoderma FAQ

Leucoderma FAQ

What is this disease? How is it caused? Can it be cured? Dr. Vivek Jain answers the most frequently asked questions on Leucoderma.
 

What exactly is Leucoderma?

Strictly speaking, Leucoderma is not a medical term, though it has come to mean any white/light coloured skin patch. Very broadly, white patches can be acquired or may be present at birth. Again, both acquired and congenital skin patches can result from hordes of reasons. While congenital patches are not of much importance - since a majority of them are birthmarks anyway, the disease wherein acquired patches develop is generally referred to as Leucoderma (or Leucoderma in medical terms). Other acquired white patches usually follow some preceding disorder.
 

What causes Leucoderma? 

Despite advanced research, medicine is still trying to figure out the exact cause (leave alone the most appropriate treatment!) of Leucoderma. There are numerous theories as to what could cause this disease, of which three have been widely accepted. 

The first theory is one of mistaken identity. The immune system mistakes the pigment cells for foreign bodies and destroys them. The second theory states that certain chemical agents destroy the pigment generating cells, while the third theory states that the cells are destroyed due to chemical exposure. 

Whatever the cause, the course of the disease is certain - and that is the destruction of pigment cells. But why do only certain areas of the body get affected? Why doesn't this disease affect the entire body? After all, pigment cells are present throughout the body. It's still a mystery. 
 

Is Leucoderma hereditary? 

Children of parents where one or both have Leucoderma are only at a fraction of a higher risk than the general population. Even the general population is at a risk of 1-2 %. This means that even with no family history for generations, any normal and fit person too stands a chance of 1-2 % of developing Leucoderma (practically for no reason at all). 
 

Why are Leucoderma spots white?

White patches need not always spell doom. Only a fraction of them could be the dreaded Leucoderma. And that too, a majority of the cases are amenable to medical management. 

Can Leucoderma be caused by consuming contrasting food items like fish/onions with milk?

Nothing can be further from the truth. This is a myth with absolutely no scientific basis. How this old grandma's tale started is still a matter of speculation. A point that should further strengthen the belief that diet has absolutely nothing to do with Leucoderma is that no dietary restrictions of any kind are imposed on a Leucoderma patient. Vitamin-C rich foods, which were once thought to promote the disease process, are no longer restricted either because of their proven and beneficial role as antioxidants.
 

How is it confirmed whether a white patch is Leucoderma? 

The white patch will in all probability be Leucoderma if it:

  • Has an outline darker than the skin. 
  • Is irregular in appearance. 
  • Gradually increases in size. 
  • Appears milky white under an ultraviolet light.


How does one go about managing Leucoderma? What is the latest in therapy?

There is NO cure for Leucoderma, and any doctor promising a cure is sure to be a quack! At the most, the patches can be coloured to match the skin, but this will not stop new patches from occurring. 

What if two people with this disease get married to each other or if one person marries a Leucoderma patient or someone with a family history of Leucoderma? 

If both parents have Leucoderma, it does increase the child's chance of getting it, but only nominally. Very often, children of parents with Leucoderma have no trace of the disease. If the disease is 'full-blown' in both the parents, the children could have a maximum 25% chance of acquiring it. As of now there is no test, genetic or prenatal, that will help decide the fate of the child in this regard. 
 

What are Albinos?

Unlike Leucoderma patients whose skin gets white in patches, Albinos have universal white skin, white hair, white eyebrows, and even white iris. Albinos are those few people who are born with dysfunctional pigment cells that do not produce colour at all. On the other hand Leucoderma patients have pigment cells that were once functional, but later destroyed due to some reason or the other.
 


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Recent comments (4 comments)
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Comment: 
Name: Nithya Samanta
Country: India

Hi, My daughter is 3.5 years old. She has developed 2 white spots, on either sides of her eyes. Iam giving her 'OMNA CORTIL' for the past 7 days. The doctor has prescribed her the medicine (5mg) for 15 days. He has specified it is not Leucoderma. So, what can the cause be? Please comment on this. I need help regarding this. Thanks
 
Name: Aliya
Country: India

Hello I am facing this problem with my son from 1.5yrs. I find "Tacroz Forte" Tacrolimus Ointment 0.1%. Kindly consult ur skin specialist & try to use this ointment. this is most effective, as told by many doctors (Skin specialist) I consulted.My son had whole white face now he is just having mark under his lip. Pls consult ur doc regarding this ointment. Best Rgds Aliya
 
Name: Amit A Shasrabudhe
Country: India

I am writing behalf of my Fiancée she has full (Whitish)white patches on her body. she was taken Aliphatic & Homeopathic treatment 2 years up to year 2006 its totally cure, but that time only white patches remain in pam. she was trying to cure that patches but its remains same. so she was stop medicine. now her skin is Whitish little brownish on stomach,neck,chest we are confuse what to do because our Communities does not accept. can u tell me this disease cause any harmful to any organs of the body part. we know, this deficiency is not completely curable but can be control give me suggestion.
 
Name: Dyuti Putatunda
Country: India

On Sunday,22nd Aug, when i got up in the morining, I observed 2 white patches under my eyes; one small (right) and one little big comparatively)(right). I am highly allergic and was on medications like Mastifen C for 4 months and Montekulast. I am not sure what this is. I am very worried. Please help. If needed, I cam mail my picture for better understanding. Thank you.


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