Penile Vitiligo (Vitiligo Penis) : Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis & Treatment
Vitiligo is a long-term skin condition that causes the skin to lose its pigment in patches. The affected area becomes white in colour and has distinctive margins, showing the difference between the individual's original complexion and the patch. It is not limited to any specific part and can affect any part of your body. It can even develop inside your mouth and nose. In most cases, it affects the part of the skin that is exposed to the sun.
Penile vitiligo or vitiligo penis is caused in the male genital area. It causes the skin to lose colour and develop patches of depigmented skin. The hair around the affected area turns white as well. The condition appears on the shaft and the foreskin and not on the head or the glans of the penis. Vitiligo is not limited to any specific age and can develop during any point in your age. But in most cases, it develops before the age of 20.
Vitiligo is not contagious and does not affect the health or the functioning of the penis. The condition is considered to be autoimmune in nature.
Appearing on the foreskin and the shaft of the penis, the major sign of the condition is patches of skin that are depigmented. Along with this, the condition has other symptoms such as
The symptoms and the nature of vitiligo categorise it to three subtypes, such as
However, if one experiences symptoms such as erectile dysfunction , difficulty in urinating and pain, consult a urologist immediately.
Generally, the condition is caused when the melanocytes (cells that produce skin colour) in one's body stops functioning. There is a lack of definite evidence in the medical field about the cause of penis vitiligo. However, it is believed that the condition is developed due to the following factors such as
Apart from the aforementioned causes, scientific studies have revealed that penile vitiligo is an autoimmune condition . This condition occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacking the healthy cells in the body.
The autoimmune condition is identified by the medical professional through a physical examination . During the physical examination, the doctor will examine your penis and the rest of the body. This is done to examine whether the other parts of your body is also affected by vitiligo.
An ultraviolet light will be used to examine the affected areas, as it helps in confirming whether the skin pigmentation disorder is indeed caused by vitiligo. Also, depending on your symptoms, a biopsy will be conducted where the doctor may take a sample of your penis skin to be examined under the microscope. The biopsy is conducted so as to rule out the possibility of balanitis xerotica obliterans.
The doctor will ask about your family medical history so as to examine whether anyone in your family has the autoimmune condition.
The skin condition is not a curable one. That is, vitiligo does not have any treatments that can completely heal it. In most cases, the treatments can help bring the original skin tone back. As it does not affect the health in any way, people often opt out of getting treated. Due to the sensitivity in the genital area, the treatment methods can be harder to execute.
Under this treatment method, ultraviolet A, ultraviolet B or the excimer light will be used. The light therapy helps in regaining the pigment of the penis skin. The method is often amalgamated with psoralen medication, which may have an elevated response rate.
Ointments and topical creams can be effective in this reducing the prominence of vitiligo on the affected area. The ointments affect your body's immune response and include corticosteroid creams that are anti-inflammatory. Ointments that contain pimecrolimus or tacrolimus are also used.
These medications are to be used only according to the doctor's recommendation.
In the case of light therapy and medications being ineffective, the other option is surgery . If the vitiligo has affected the foreskin, circumcision is an effective method. In other cases, skin grafting has to be done where the doctor will take small parts of skin from unaffected parts of your body and graft it to the affected area.
However, this is only applicable when the affected area is small in size. As skin grafting can be difficult to be done to a large area.
Penile vitiligo is not fatal or dangerous. The condition also does not affect your health or pose any complications in your sexual health as well. Individuals with penile vitiligo are at a higher risk of developing skin cancer, eye problems, and hearing problems .
However, psychological and social problems have been linked with individuals with vitiligo. The condition can cause individuals to undergo stress and lack of confidence as the patches in the skin may affect their social life. That is, they can face bullying and mockery from other people, therefore causing the individuals to undergo a tremendous amount of stress.
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