Dr Jide Owolana, the Chief Medical Director, Living Standards Hospital, Benin, on Tuesday said that vitiligo was not a contagious skin condition and affected people should be treated with love and care.
Owolana told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Benin that Vitiligo is a long-term problem in which growing patches of skin lose their colour.
He said that it could affect people of any age, gender or ethnic group, adding that the total area of skin that can be affected by the disease varied between individuals.
The medical expert said that causes of vitiligo included genetic tendencies, auto-immune disorder, intrinsic defects of melanocytes, disturbance in oxidant-antioxidant systems, trauma or stress and neural theory.
Owolana said the only symptom of vitiligo is the appearance of flat white spots or patches on the skin.
He said that the first white spot that becomes noticeable was often in an area that was exposed to the sun.
“The exact cause of vitiligo is unknown, but it may be due to an autoimmune disorder or a virus.
“Too much sun can wear out the pigmentation of the skin.
“For now, there is no cure for vitiligo, it is usually a lifelong condition.
“Apart from the skin, it can also affect the eyes, the inside of the mouth and the hair.
“In most cases, the affected areas remain discoloured for the rest of the person’s life.
“It is rare and it appears to affect between 0.5 per cent and two per cent of people globally,’’ the medical expert said.
He advised that anyone with such symptoms should see a good medical doctor.