Vitiligo Tests and Diagnosis
If you develop white patches of skin on your body, you should make an appointment with your doctor or dermatologist. If they suspect that you have vitiligo, they will take a physical examination (skin appearance, hair color, and eye color) and ask about your medical history. In particular, they will want to know whether anyone in your family has similar symptoms, whether autoimmune diseases run in your family, whether you suffer from other skin conditions or unusual sun sensitivity, and whether you developed gray hair before the age of 35.
Doctors will also often make use of the Wood’s Lamp Examination technique to diagnose vitiligo. This involves using a UV-A emitting lamp to shine light on the skin and then observing the behavior of the light on the affected area of the body. In vitiligo patients, there will be a significant contrast between the affected and unaffected areas. In addition, vitiligo-affected skin will give off a blue fluorescence whereas normal skin will not.
A blood test and skin biopsy may also be taken to rule out other conditions. Mainly, the doctor will want to make sure that the skin’s altered appearance is not due to fungal or bacterial infections, which can result in similar symptoms. In addition, a biopsy will provide conclusive evidence that the observed symptoms are not due to a cancerous mutation of the cells.
Skin Biopsy Types
There are three types of skin biopsy that may be used. Punch biopsy involves the incision of a cylindrical section of the skin with an instrument that resembles a cookie cutter. Stitches may be needed to close the wound. Excision biopsy involves the cutting out of an area of affected skin using a scalpel; again stitches are often required. The third type of skin biopsy involves the shaving off of the outer layer of affected skin with a scalpel; this type of biopsy is called shave biopsy.
If you are diagnosed with vitiligo you should not be disheartened. You are certainly not alone: it is estimated that between 65 to 100 million worldwide have this condition. It is not contagious and is not harmful to your overall health. You can also get rid of it naturally and safely by supplementing with specific herbal extracts and vitamins and by adopting certain dietary and lifestyle measures.