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Vitiligo Vocab: A Glossary of Terms

For people living with vitiligo and parents of kids with the skin disorder, this A-Z glossary is an excellent free resource for all your terminology needs.

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308 nm Excimer Laser
One of the laser treatment methods often used to correct localized vitiligo. The efficacy of the excimer lies between 15 and 61%.

355-Nm Ultraviolet A1 Laser

One of the laser treatment methods often used to correct localized vitiligo. It was initially developed for treating psoriasis.

4-methoxyphenol (4-MP)

A topical depigmenting agent.

A

Ablative Fractional Laser

One of the laser treatment methods often used to correct localized vitiligo. It was initially developed for the remodeling of scars.

Acupuncture

A chief component of traditional Chinese medicine for treating localized vitiligo.

Albinism

A skin disorder often misinterpreted as vitiligo. People with Albinism are born without pigmentation in their skin, which also makes them resistant to sunlight.

Alexandrite lasers

One of the physical therapies used for depigmentation, to prevent melanin production in the skin where melanocytes are still fully functional. The method, due to a faster pulse frequency, allows for more rapid therapy.

Ammi majus

Psoralen-containing plant used to treat vitiligo. Many ancient scriptures confirm that they were being applied to pale macules and then exposed to sunlight.

Antidepressants

Pharmacological treatment to treat depression and anxiety in vitiligo.

Anxiety

A feeling of fear and apprehension about what is to come.

Arsenic Album

A homeopathic medicine, prescribed for vitiligo in anxious personalities).

Arsenic Sulph Flavum Trituration Tablet 6X

A homeopathic medicine, prescribed for vitiligo at the mucocutaneous junction.

Arsenicum Sulfuratum Flavum

A homeopathic medicine, prescribed to vitiligo fighters with discoloration of the skin in pale or white blotches.

Arsenic Sulph Flavum

A homeopathic medicine, often used as a stock remedy for vitiligo, best-suited for vitiligo fighters who experience itching in varied parts of the body.

Ashtanga Hridaya

One of the first textbooks of Ayurvedic medicine that explained the prognostic factors of depigmentation.

Autoimmune Theory

The autoimmune theory proposes that, in the case of vitiligo, the immune system reacts against the body’s own tissues and cells. This results in the destruction of melanocytes.

Autologous non-cultured epidermal cell suspensions

A surgical treatment option to stabilize vitiligo that allows large areas of skin to be treated in one session.

B

Baras

A term used in ancient Arabic books to describe “white skin” or possibly vitiligo.

Bakuchi Taila

One of the widely used medicine for vitiligo, prescribed under the discipline of Ayurveda.

C

Calcarea Carb

A homeopathic medicine, prescribed for vitiligo or leucoderma with dark borders.

Calcineurin Inhibitors

Immune-modulating medication, often prescribed if topical corticosteroids fail to stop the progression of vitiligo.

Calcipotriene

A form of vitamin D, used as a topical ointment in vitiligo.

Carcinosin

One of the common constitutional homeopathic remedies prescribed to address associated symptoms of vitiligo.

Cat Stretch Pose (Marjari Asana)

A yoga pose, frequently prescribed to vitiligo fighters to manage the psychological component of vitiligo.

Causticum 30

A homeopathic medicine, prescribed for vitiligo from burns.

Chemical Leukoderma

The depigmentation of skin due to exposure to certain industrial chemicals

Child’s Pose (Balasana),

A yoga pose, frequently prescribed to vitiligo fighters to manage the psychological component of vitiligo.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

A subcategory of Psychotherapy that aims to help people challenge negative thinking patterns and behaviors.

Corpse Pose (Savasana)

A yoga pose, frequently prescribed to vitiligo fighters to manage the psychological component of vitiligo.

Corticosteroids

Steroid hormone prescribed to achieve the total restoration of the original skin color.

Cow Face Pose (Gomukhasana)

A yoga pose, frequently prescribed to vitiligo fighters to manage the psychological component of vitiligo.

Cryotherapy

One of the physical therapies used for depigmentation, to prevent melanin production in the skin where melanocytes are still fully functional. The method is simple, easy to perform, safe, and cost-effective compared to other physical therapies used for depigmentation.

Cultured melanocyte suspensions

A surgical treatment options to stabilize vitiligo.

D

Depigmentation    

The destruction of melanocytes (the cells responsible for pigmentation).

Depigmentation therapy

If vitiligo has affected 50% (or more) area of the body, Depigmentation can be considered. The therapy reduces the color of pigmented skin through applying strong of topical lotions or ointments. At times, the laser can be used to impart even skin appearance. Though permanent, the treatment can make the skin more fragile or sensitive to sun exposure.

Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

A yoga pose, frequently prescribed to vitiligo fighters to manage the psychological component of vitiligo.

E

Epidermis

The upper or outer layer of the two main layers of skin cells.

Extensive vitiligo

A chronic skin disorder characterized by the spread of white patches on more than 50% of the skin.

G

Gain-Switched 311-Nm Ti-sapphire laser

One of the laser treatment methods often used to correct localized vitiligo. The procedure is approved by the Korean Food and Drug Administration.

H

Hair follicle

A dynamic organ found in mammalian skin.

Henry Moss

A man of African descent who rose to fame in 1796 for exhibiting his body for a fee in taverns in the Philadelphia area.

Hydrocotyle Asiatica

One of the common constitutional homeopathic remedies prescribed to address associated symptoms of vitiligo.

Hydroquinone

The main depigmenting agent, widely used in skin bleaching creams.

Hyperpigmentation

Darkened spots on the skin.

I

Immunosuppressant drugs

Drugs used to inhibit or prevent activity of the immune system in vitiligo.

Immune System

The organs and processes of the human body that resist infection and toxins.

Intoxicating Bliss Pose (Ananda Madirasana)

A yoga pose, frequently prescribed to vitiligo fighters to manage the psychological component of vitiligo. 

K

Kali Carbonicum

A homeopathic medicine, prescribed to tackle anxiety in vitiligo.

L

Leprosy

An infectious disease mainly causing skin lesions and nerve damage.

Leucoderma

A skin disorder, characterized by the localization or ultimate destruction of melanocytes. The disorder is often observed after a scratch, a cut or afterburn.

Lotus Pose (Padmasana)

A yoga pose, frequently prescribed to vitiligo fighters to manage the psychological component of vitiligo.

Low-Energy 632.8 nm Helium-Neon Laser

One of the Laser treatment methods often used to correct segmental vitiligo.

M

Melanocytes

The cells responsible for pigmentation.

Melanogenesis

The pigmentation pathway by which cells produce melanin.

Mercury

A toxic substance used for lightening the skin color. It is banned in the United States for its severe ill health effects.

Miniature punch grafting

A surgical method to correct vitiligo.

Monobenzyl ether of hydroquinone (MBEH)

An FDA approved topical depigmenting agent, which induces cellular oxidative stress in exposed pigmented cells by producing peroxide.

Moritz Kaposi

The first scientist who observed lack of pigment granules in vitiligo cases in 1879.

Moxibustion

A chief component of traditional Chinese medicine for treating vitiligo. Moxibustion improves the blood circulation and metabolism on lesion positions. It attempts to promote the synthesis of melanophore (pigment cells) and improve the melanophore activity.

N

Narrowband UVB Phototherapy

A potent melanocytes stimulant that is used to treat nonsegmetal vitiligo. In this method, the affected areas of skin are exposed to fluorescent lamps, which emit the ultraviolet light of a range of wavelengths between 310 and 315 nanometers.

National Vitiligo Awareness Month

A month dedicated to vitiligo awareness, observed in several US states (the states of Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Ohio, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina and West Virginia).

Natrum Muriaticum

One of the common constitutional homeopathic remedies prescribed to address associated symptoms of vitiligo.

Nonsegmental Vitiligo (NSV)

A chronic skin disorder, characterized by progressive, depigmented lesions of the skin, mucosa, and hair. Many studies suggest that it is more likely to appear around the age of 20. The total area of affected skin varies between individuals. However, it is always hard to predict whether the patches will spread, and by how much.

Nitricum Acidum

One of the common constitutional homeopathic remedies prescribed to address associated symptoms of vitiligo.

O

Ogo Maduewesi

A Nigerian vitiligo fighter who conceptualized the World Vitiligo Day.

Oxidative stress

One of the proposed and highly hypothesized causes of vitiligo, Oxidative stress characterizes an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in the body.

Oxsoralen

A highly phototoxic topical medication for vitiligo, which causes a sunburn effect on the skin that lasts for three days or more.

P

Phenol

A topical depigmenting agent.

Photocil

A topical cream, widely prescribed for vitiligo.

Phototherapy with UVA light

A medical therapy to treat vitiligo through the exposure to high doses of UVA light.

Phototherapy with UVB light

A medical therapy to treat vitiligo through the exposure to ultraviolet B (UVB) lamps.

Phosphorus

One of the common constitutional homeopathic remedies prescribed to address associated symptoms of vitiligo.

Pranayama

The breathing discipline of Yoga, often prescribed to vitiligo fighters for improving the sense of well-being and reducing anxiety.

Psoralea corylifolia

Psoralen-containing plant used to treat vitiligo. Many ancient scriptures confirm that they were being applied to pale macules and then exposed to sunlight.

Psychotherapy

The treatment of mental disorder by psychological means.

Psychiatric morbidity

Common mental disorders (such as depression), which are more frequent in young vitiligo fighters and higher in those having lesions on exposed body areas.

Psychological well being

A mental state, which consists of positive relationships with others, autonomy, a feeling of purpose and meaning in life, and personal growth and development.

Psoralea Coryl. 3X

A homeopathic medicine, prescribed for vitiligo, used externally in the form of oil.

PUVA Therapy

Psoralen and Ultra-Violet A (PUVA) Therapy is one of the alternative methods to treat segmental vitiligo, which is currently going obsolete due to poor outcome. It is a medical procedure, which involves exposing vitiligo patches to the ultraviolet light after application of Psoralen.

Q

Q-switched ruby

One of the physical therapies used for depigmentation, to prevent melanin production in the skin where melanocytes are still fully functional. The QSR lasers induce selective photothermolysis of pigmented lesions, which are absorbed easily by melanin.

R

Reclining Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)

A yoga pose, frequently prescribed to vitiligo fighters to manage the psychological component of vitiligo.

S

Sepia

A homeopathic medicine, prescribed for vitiligo or leucoderma with increased sweating.

Segmented vitiligo

The depigmentation of patches of skin, hair, mucous (inside the mouth or nose) or eyes on typically just one side of an individual’s body. Since segmental vitiligo has an early onset, most of the cases occur before age 30. The affected area of the skin usually spread quickly firstly, and stop spreading after 1-2 years (varies from person to person). About 10% of vitiligo cases are segmental.

Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)

A medication often prescribed to vitiligo fighters.

Silicea

A homeopathic medicine, prescribed to vitiligo fighters with loss of confidence.

Skin camouflage

A collection of cosmetic creams and makeup used to conceal white patches.

Skin grafts

A surgical method that removes healthy patches of the person’s pigmented skin and uses them to cover vitiligo affected areas.

Sleep Apnea

A common but under-recognized disorder that occurs in those who snore.

Social anxiety

Also known as social phobia, it causes an overwhelming fear of social situations. It is one of the common psychological symptoms of vitiligo.

Somnambulism

Well-known as Sleep-walking, it is a rare sleep disorder that is often temporary.  

Split-thickness skin grafting

A surgical method to correct vitiligo, which involves shaving off thin layers of skin from the affected area to produce uniform pigmentation.

Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)

A yoga pose, frequently prescribed to vitiligo fighters to manage the psychological component of vitiligo.

Staphysagria 30

A homeopathic medicine, prescribed for vitiligo at the tip of the penis.

Steroid Creams

Topical corticosteroids that are prescribed to stop the vitiligo spread.

Suction blister grafting

A surgical method to correct vitiligo.

Sulphur

One of the common constitutional homeopathic remedies prescribed to address associated symptoms of vitiligo.

Sweta Kushtha

A term used to describe vitiligo in ancient Indian texts of the Manu Smriti and the Charaka Samhita.

T

Tattooing

The act of implanting artificial pigments into vitiligo affected skin.

Thuja

A homeopathic medicine, prescribed for vitiligo with warts and polyps.

Topical depigmenting agents

External applications (chemicals, balms, creams or liniments) used to lighten the skin tone for those who have vitiligo or similar conditions

Tuberculinum 200

One of the common constitutional homeopathic remedies prescribed to address associated symptoms of vitiligo.

Tzaraath

A term used in the Old Testament book of Leviticus (1280 or 1312 BCE), describing a group of skin diseases associated with white spots.

V

Vitamin B12

A water-soluble vitamin that is employed in the metabolism of every cell of the human body. Several research studies have revealed that people with vitiligo are often deficient in Vitamin B12.

Vitamin D

An essential hormone, it is synthesized in the skin and protects the epidermal melanin unit. It restores melanocyte by controlling the activation, proliferation, and migration of melanocytes.

Vitiligo

A long-term skin condition that causes the loss of pigmentation. As a result, white patches (typically with sharp margins) appear and grow on the different part of the body. Even though the skin disorder is not life-threatening and contagious, it can lead to psychological stress, anxiety, and depression.

Vitiligo Extent Score 

The most widely used clinical rating scale for the overall vitiligo involvement of the body (extent)

W

World Vitiligo Day

A day (observed on June 25 across the world) that intends to unite vitiligo fighters, physicians, clinicians, research institutions for grassroots networking. It is observed to build global awareness about the skin disorder that can have a significantly negative social and psychological impact on those living with it.

Z

Zara’at

A Hebrew word used in the bible (the old testament), referring to “white spots”

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