Vitiligo (leukoderma) is called as Switra in Ayurveda. Vitiligo is a distressing skin condition marked by gradual loss of melanocytes, the cells responsible for producing melanin pigment in skin layers which results in irregular white patches.

The only physical discomfort associated with Vitiligo is the intolerance to sunlight, but it applies only when a large area of skin is exposed directly to sunlight. Vitiligo is an otherwise benign skin condition that causes no physical harm.

However, Vitiligo causes great psychological stress and embarrassment to the patient which can be more painful than any physical pain. The condition thus, besides being a medical problem, also becomes a social stigma

Vitiligo can occur at any age, in either sex and on any part of the body. It is, however, more common in women than men. The most commonly affected areas are the hands, neck, back and wrist in that order.

Symptoms of vitiligo:

Vitiligo usually starts with a small white spot and later develops into patches. These patches are pale in the beginning but became darker as time passes due increase in loss of melanin. As the spots enlarge, they merge into one another and, in the course of time, form a broad patch. In some cases, most of the skin of the body can be covered with white patches.

The spread of Vitiligo is usually slow and progressive. The spots generally tend to grow symmetrically on both the sides of the body however in some cases, vitiligo spreads randomly all over the body.

Vitiligo can vary in size, shape, intensity of the loss of color and in the profile of their distribution. Some times Vitiligo becomes a chronic skin condition while in other cases it may even regress on its own.

This skin condition requires treatment by a dermatologist.

Causes of vitiligo:

The exact causes for destruction of melanocytes which results in vitiligo is unknown.

Many false beliefs are prevalent about the reason for vitiligo. For one, it is not caused by eating fish and drinking milk at the same time. Similarly attributing vitiligo to eating other combinations of food such as pumpkin and milk, onion and milk etc. are incorrect.

Vitiligo is also not caused by any germs. Part of the possible reason for Vitiligo includes:

Autoimmune disorder: Evidences strongly associate Vitiligo with autoimmune component. People with vitiligo develop antibodies that directly destroy melanocytes. Furthermore, vitiligo is often associated with other autoimmune diseases such as thyroid disorders, suggesting the existence of common mechanisms.

Hereditary factors: Genes that play a role in the immune response are one of the established causative factor for vitiligo. Round 30 percent of patients have a hereditary history of
vitiligo.

Accumulation of toxic radicals: Several studies suggest that, melanocytes are destroyed in those people whose body accumulate many toxic radicals. This abnormal accumulation of radicals result in destruction of melanocytes.

Nervous secretion: Researchers have also collected evidences that destruction on melanocytes could be related to the release of toxic chemicals from nerve endings in the affected areas.

Nutritional deficiencies: Many naturopaths believe that vitiligo may be caused by nutritional deficiencies caused by a intake of faulty diet comprising of denatured foods like white flour, white sugar and tinned products which are low in nutrients.

Other triggers: Researchers also suggest other external triggers like injury to skin, sunburn, mental distress and physical Illness as possible causes of vitiligo.

Is Vitiligo contagious?

Vitiligo is not contagious. It does not spread by contact, food or otherwise. It is also not a precancerous condition.

Natural Remedies for Vitiligo treatment

  1. I) Ant stress Management:Stress (physical or emotional) has been found to be the prime trigger of genealogical disturbances that result in and promote the growth of vitiligo. Indulge in creative pursuits to stay clear of emotional stress. Lifestyle changes to incorporate practices like meditation, yoga and other relaxation exercises is the best thing you can do arrest the growth of vitiligo.
  2. II) Psoralea seeds:  seeds soaked in the juice of ginger or tamarind seeds (to be replaced daily) for three days is perhaps the most time tested and best home remedy for vitiligo. Psoralea seeds essentially replicate the effect of the sun tanning and is effective in restoration of skin color. After three days of soaking, the seeds should be rubbed with hands to remove their shell and should be dried in shade before being grounded into a powder. One gram of this powder should be taken daily with fresh milk for 40 days without interruption. The ground seeds should also be applied on the affected areas.

Psorela seeds are also used as an ingredient in ultraviolet phototherapy, the most common treatment of vitiligo.

III) Management of Auto-immune Phenomenon: To discover the root cause of auto-immune disorders, Ayurveda looks at what caused the inflammation and works backward: inflammation is caused by lack of celluar recognition/communication; the breakdown in communication is due to cells being covered with “ama” (a Sanskrit word meaning toxic waste product); the ama is caused by low “agni” (a Sanskrit word meaning digestive strength or fire) and low “ojas” (a Sanskrit word that can be translated as immunity). So the root causes of auto-immune disorders are low agni and weak ojas. Therefore, the Ayurveda treatment focuses on restoring agni and ojas.