How to manage penile vitiligo? The depigmentation of the skin, characteristic of vitiligo, can also affect the male genitals.
What is Vitiligo?
Vitiligo is a skin condition that causes melanin to be lost by generating white patches or patches of skin.
Melanin is responsible for the color of the skin and hair; therefore when the loss of melanocytes occurs (they are the cells that produce melanin) they lose color until they become very clear.
Vitiligo can occur in any area of the body, including the penis, but it is difficult to tell which parts of the body may be affected by the loss of pigment or the size of the spots.
Symptoms of Penis Vitiligo
Vitiligo of the penis manifests itself with depigmented spots on the foreskin and shaft, but also on the glans penis or on the head of the penis.
If you have vitiligo on the penis, you may notice vitiligo in other parts of the body, but also symptoms not related to the skin such as:
- gray or white hair
- loss of color in mucous membranes, such as the linings of the nose and mouth
- visual changes, which result from the loss of pigment in the inner lining of the eyeball
Vitiligo of the penis, like other types of vitiligo, is also not contagious and has no effect on the functionality of the reproductive organ.
If you experience symptoms, such as pain, difficulty urinating, erectile dysfunction or anything else unusual, consult a proctologist, but they are most likely the result of another condition.
Causes of Vitiligo of the Penis
The causes of penile vitiligo are not entirely clear, as is the case with all other types of vitiligo.
Scholars think vitiligo is an autoimmune disease, occurring when the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells.
If you have another autoimmune condition, such as lupus or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis,
it could have a higher incidence in developing vitiligo.
Furthermore, the incidence of developing vitiligo is higher if you have a family history of vitiligo.
How is penile vitiligo diagnosed?
Vitiligo is diagnosed during a thorough physical exam.
If the affected area is that of the penis, the doctor will probably also examine the rest of the body.
Probably the dermatologist will proceed with the examination of the Wood’s lamp, to make the skin shine with an ultraviolet light to help confirm that it is vitiligo.
Depending on the symptoms, the dermatologist may also consider taking a small sample of skin from the penis for examination under a microscope, this procedure is known as a biopsy.
This test is useful in ruling out other skin conditions.
Penile Vitiligo Treatment
There are no treatments to permanently cure Vitiligo, but some treatments can help restore some of the original skin tone.
It should be pointed out again that penile vitiligo has no effect on health, so it does not require treatment.
Also, penile vitiligo may be difficult to treat because the genitals are a very sensitive area.
Topical creams and ointments can help reduce the appearance of vitiligo.
These medications usually include anti-inflammatory corticosteroid creams or ointments, which affect the body’s immune response.
Corticosteroid cream should be used on the penis only if the doctor recommends it.
Long-term use could cause side effects, such as skin irritation and skin atrophy.
Using ultraviolet A, ultraviolet B, or excimer light to help restore pigment to penile skin can be effective.
However, excessive exposure to ultraviolet light from the genitals can also be dangerous and increase the risk of skin cancer, so it requires careful evaluation with a dermatologist.
When combined with psoralen medications, light therapy can help mild cases of Vitiligo. Psoralen is a compound that helps the body absorb ultraviolet light.
If other treatments have been ineffective, surgery may be an option.
If you only have vitiligo on your foreskin, circumcision can help.
In other cases, a surgeon may be able to take a small piece of skin from another area of the body and graft it onto the affected area.
But this can be difficult to do on the penis, especially if a large area is involved.