What Is Leucoderma?

Kaiser Castro

Leucoderma is a skin ailment noted by unsightly white spots and patches on the skin. The white patches are referred to as leucoderma, with enveloping patches being usually noted as vitiligo. White patches on the skin are formed due to the loss of melanin, a colored pigment that gives the skin its color. Leucodermia usually start with a small localized patch, slowly spreading onto other portions of the body as time passes.

Enveloping white patches are usually attributed to vitiligo.
Enveloping white patches are usually attributed to vitiligo.

The most recognizable symptom of leucoderma is pigment loss that produces patches utterly void of pigmentation. It tends to manifest on skin that is unprotected like the hands or arms. The mucous membranes at the inside of the mouth can also be affected leucoderma, with white patches appearing on the lips as well.

Leucoderma can be diagnosed by analyzing skin samples under a microscope.
Leucoderma can be diagnosed by analyzing skin samples under a microscope.

A doctor can diagnose leucoderma by analyzing the skin under a microscope to determine the absence of melanin. The doctor may recommend that a patient visits a specialist like a dermatologist for a proper biopsy to rule out any skin ailments that can adversely affects the skin’s pigmentation. A blood test can allow a doctor to view hormone levels and thyroid secretions, helping him or her to come to a conclusion as to what is causing the white patches.

Treatments for leucoderma have a tendency to be generally ineffective, with little to marginal success. Medical technologies that can help alleviate the condition includes medicines, depigmenting creams like monobenzone to totally bleach out darker areas for a more even skin tone, and laser therapy. The recommendation of a health care provider or a skin expert should be sought out in order to determine which treatment path will be able to alleviate the white patches, as different skin types will react differently to the various remedies.

In spite of complex medical analysis, the medical community is still trying to determine the precise cause of leucoderma. The formation of the disorder tends to be sporadic, happening in a variety of demographics and groups of people. There are numerous theories as to what may cause the disease, with many theories being broadly accepted by the medical community.

A theory that is commonly promoted is one of flawed identity, where the immune system mistakes melanin as a foreign contaminant, which causes the body to destroy it. Chemical imbalances in the body that create the white patches is another theory of medical professionals. The third theory states that the melanin cells are destroyed due to prolonged exposure to external chemicals.

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