I am ending this particular series of posts about conditions associated with vitiligo by focusing on Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).
The two most common forms of IBD are #Crohn's Disease and #UlcerativeColitis. In both cases parts of the intestinal tract become sore and inflamed. Whereas Crohn's Disease can affect any part of the digestive system - from the mouth to the anus - Ulcerative Colitis affects the colon (large intestine) and the rectum. As with vitiligo, the causes of IBD are not fully understood. It is thought that some people are genetically predisposed to the condition and that others have an abnormal reaction to the bacteria in their intestine. One theory is that viral or bacterial infections, diet, stress, or environmental factors might act as a trigger to the onset of the disease. Sufferers tend to be susceptible to flare-ups alternating with periods of remission and symptoms include abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhoea, fatigue, mouth ulcers, loss of appetite and weight loss. Joints and eyes can also be affected. No definitive cure exists, although various treatments can lessen the symptoms.
In addition to the symptoms mentioned above, IBD sufferers often have other extraintestinal manifestations (diseases affecting parts of the body outside the intestinal tract) as well. These can be just as unpleasant and problematic as the IBD itself. Typically, these extraintestinal manifestations are autoimmune conditions affecting other organ systems, such as thyroid disease, diabetes, pancreatitis, psoriasis, vitiligo and others. This informative article on the subject, published in Frontiers in Physiology, states: "The skin is one of the most commonly affected organ systems in patients who suffer from IBD. The scientific literature suggests that a disturbance of the equilibrium between host defense and tolerance, and the subsequent over-activity of certain immune pathways are responsible for the cutaneous disorders seen so frequently in IBD patients."
The scientific papers that point to links between IBD and skin disorders make interesting reading and, from a layman’s point of view, the association does seem to make sense. It seems self-evident to me that a defective digestive tract will inevitably lead to nutritional deficiencies, which in turn, will cause all sorts of symptoms and, eventually, chronic conditions. It also seems logical to my mind – and forgive me for being simplistic - that if you suffer from inflammation of the skin on the inside (which is exactly what the surface of the digestive tract is) you are more likely to suffer from inflammation of the skin on the outside too.
My name is Caroline.