News of former Machachari actress Clara Wamaitha alias Cindy or Mama Stella having full blown Vitiligo has caught many by surprise.

Unlike Albinism, full blown Vitiligo is not so common thus some people are not informed about it.

Here are things you should know about the condition.

It is a generally unpredictable skin disease that causes a gradual loss of skin color and overlying hair on different parts of the body.

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Clara Wamaitha alias Mama Stella of Machchari

Unknown to many, Vitiligo is a life long condition meaning one cannot be free from it, one can only manage it so that it does not get extreme.

According to Vitiligo Research foundation, the condition commonly affects areas on the skin that are exposed to sun, previous sites of skin injury, body folds -– such as armpits – and areas around body openings, genitals also may be affected.

Vitiligo may start as a patch that is slightly paler than the rest of your skin but will gradually become completely white.

The causes of vitiligo are yet to be precisely established.

The areas of skin most commonly affected by vitiligo include:

  • mouth and eyes
  • fingers and wrists
  • armpits
  • groin
  • genitals
  • inside your mouth

It can also sometimes develop where there are hair roots, such as on your scalp. The lack of melanin in your skin can turn the hair in the affected area white or grey.

Types of vitiligo

There are 2 main types of vitiligo:

  • non-segmental vitiligo
  • segmental vitiligo

In rare cases, it’s possible for vitiligo to affect your whole body. This is known as universal or complete vitiligo.

Non-segmental vitiligo

In non-segmental vitiligo (also called bilateral or generalised vitiligo), the symptoms often appear on both sides of your body as symmetrical white patches.

Symmetrical patches can appear on the:

  • backs of your hands
  • arms
  • skin around body openings, such as the eyes
  • knees
  • elbows
  • feet

Non-segmental vitiligo is the most common type of vitiligo, affecting around 9 in 10 people with the condition.

Segmental vitiligo

In segmental vitiligo (also known as unilateral or localised vitiligo), the white patches only affect one area of your body.

Research has shown that About half of vitiligo cases begin in childhood, often popping up in springtime without warning.

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Children with vitiligo may have a higher chance of developing other autoimmune diseases, such as

  • Alopecia areata.
  • Diabetes mellitus.
  • Pernicious anemia.
  • Addison’s disease and thyroid disorder.

Vitiligo should ideally be treated within two or three months of its first appearance, because as the condition progresses it becomes harder – although by no means impossible – to treat.

There’s currently neither a cure for vitiligo, nor a universally accepted method for limiting the spread of the disease.

Source: Vitiligo Research Foundation

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