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There is a disorder in the skin wherein the pigment cells of a body is destroyed by the body itself. In affected spots where melanocytes (pigment cells) are destroyed, there would be gradual disappearance of the pigment. When this happens, the area will then become white and if there is hair there, they too would turn white. This loss of pigment disorder is commonly observed during summer and the affected areas have high chances of being blistered and burned by the sun.

Leukoderma is a disorder known as an auto-immune one. This is because the body will consider the pigment cells as foreign and would go about rejecting and destroying it. There are many reasons why leukoderma occurs. This pigmentation disorder may be caused by genetic predispositions. Leukoderma may also be caused a skin injury, allergies or by other skin problems. For some, exposure to photosentizing cosmetics or some nutritional deficiencies may be the cause. Vitiligo by the way is leukoderma but more of a specific type. Some use both terms interchangeably which may be incorrect at times.

As mentioned, there are numerous causes for leukoderma. The following are categories of such causes.

Chemical/Occupational Causes. This involves exposure to chemicals or agents that causes depigmentation. For this, repigmentation may happen but may not also. Other areas not exposed to such agents can also lose pigmentation.

Infection. The infection that may lead to Leukoderma includes syphilis, lichen planus, leprosy, and pityriasis versicolor. Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease caused by the Treponema palladium bacteria. Lichen planus is a rare disorder involving abnormal immune reaction due to a viral infection. Skin cells will be attacked. Leprosy is a chronic disease due to being infected by the bacteria mycobacterium leprae. The eyes, testes, peripheral nervous system, mucous membranes, and of course the skin are commonly affected. Pityriasis versicolor involves the appearance of discolored and flaky patches in one’s back and chest.

Post-inflammatory. This category includes cutaneous lupus erythematosus, psoriasis, dermatitis, and thermal burns as the causes of leukoderma. Cutaneous lupus erythematosus (LE) is a group of rare skin problems—systemic LE, drug-induced lupus, chilblain lupus, cutaneous lupus mucinosis, neonatal LE, lupus profundus, subacute LE, discoid LE. Psoriasis involves skin patches that are scaly and red. Dermatitis is eczema, involving red irritated rashes. Thermal burns are burns acquired from external sources – molten liquid, house fire, etc.

Immunological. This category of leukoderma causes includes halo moles and vitiligo. A halo mole is a surrounded by a white ring, thus a halo. Children and teens mostly have them. Vitiligo is the loss of pigmentation and is a specific case of leukoderma.

Congenital. This category includes piebaldism, partial albinism, and tuberous sclerosis. Piebaldism is characterized by the occurrence of a white forelock right there above the forehead. Partial albinism is a condition in which a person has less melanin pigment than normal. Tuberous sclerosis is genetically acquired and is characterized by hamartomas in the heart, kidney, eye, brain, skin, and other organs. Hamartomas are due to tissues and cells overgrowth.

What can be done about your leukoderma will greatly depend on its cause.

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