Can The Risk of Developing Vitiligo be Increased Due to Exposure to Household Chemicals?

Shahad Salman

Image Courtesy: Shahad Salman's IG Page

A recent study published in the Libyan Journal of Medicine has revealed that exposure to chemicals like phenols and catechols can increase the risk of developing vitiligo. The study was conducted by a team of researchers led by Nehla Rmadi from the University of Sfax, Tunisia.

The researchers conducted a case-control study on patients diagnosed with vitiligo between July and December 2019. The data collected from participants included information on environmental and occupational chemical exposure, family history of vitiligo, and repeated antibiotic use. The study results showed that household chemicals use, colored toothpaste, living near pollution, and occupational exposure to phenol/catechol derivatives were risk factors for vitiligo.

The researchers concluded that chemical factors play a significant role in the occurrence of vitiligo and prevention of the disorder requires identifying exposure to the incriminated chemicals. Furthermore, the researchers found that patients with a repeated history of antibiotic use had a 5.1-fold increase in the risk of developing vitiligo, and that occupational exposure to phenol/catechol derivatives was significantly associated with the condition. Having said that, the study highlights the need for more research to understand the relationship between vitiligo and chemical exposures and to create more awareness about this autoimmune disorder.

The study highlights the importance of being aware of the chemicals we expose ourselves to in our daily lives. By reducing exposure to chemicals like phenols and catechols, we may be able to reduce the risk of developing vitiligo. Some of the ways to reduce (or moderately use household chemicals) include:

  • Reading labels and avoid products containing harmful chemicals.
  • Choosing eco-friendly cleaning products, such as vinegar and baking soda, instead of harsh chemical cleaners.
  • Using all-natural personal care products, such as shampoo, conditioner, and soap, that are free of harmful chemicals.
  • Avoiding the use of air fresheners and scented candles, and opt for natural alternatives, such as essential oils.
  • Storing chemicals, such as pesticides and cleaning products, in a locked cabinet, out of reach of children and pets.
  • Reducing plastic usage, as many plastic products contain harmful chemicals, such as BPA and phthalates.
  • Using non-toxic cookware, such as stainless steel, cast iron, and glass, instead of non-stick pans that contain harmful chemicals.
  • Considering switching to organic or natural products for household items, such as bedding, towels, and clothing.
  • Disposing of household chemicals properly, such as taking them to a hazardous waste collection site.

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