Vitiligo hurts. It doesn’t cause a physical pain. It’s not a dangerous disease. In fact it doesn’t do anything except change the color of your skin. But it can destroy your life if you let it. So don’t let it.
What is vitiligo?
Vitiligo is a disease of the melanocytes, the cells in your skin that produce color in the form of melanin. With the exception of albinos, everyone has melanocytes – some people more than others.
When those melanin producing cells die, the skin turns white and so does any hair growing on it. Perhaps it wouldn’t be as terrible if the loss of color was uniform, but it isn’t. The white appears in patches, scattered around the body, on the face, the lips, the scalp, even inside the mouth or in the eyes. And the patchwork appearance can be devastating to the person with the disease.
What Causes Vitiligo?
No one knows for sure what causes vitiligo. It is probably an autoimmune disorder, in which your immune system attacks your own cells. It does tend to run in families, but there is also some evidence that skin injury, such as burns, even sunburn, tattoos and severe abrasions can act as a trigger. Whatever the cause, the result can destroy your self-confidence and self-esteem as it mars your appearance.
What is The Treatment For Vitiligo?
There is no cure for this disease, but there are treatments that can slow the progress of the disease or even restore some color to areas that have lost pigment.
1. Prescription medications
- Corticosteroid creams – the cream reduces inflammation in the skin and helps save the melanocytes.
- Calcipotriene cream – this cream contains a variant of Vitamin D which slows down the growth of skin cells.
- Creams or ointments containing tacrolimus that interfere with the immune system locally.
- Psoralen – this drug sensitizes your skin to ultraviolet light. It is used in combination with a UV light source over the affected skin.
2. Other therapies
- Narrow band UVB light – this is usually best on the face and neck in small areas.
- Laser – this is for small areas only and often used with a cream or ointment.
- Bleaching – this method attempts to even out the color by removing color from the still normal skin.
- Surgery – skin grafts of normal cells implanted into areas of vitiligo.
3. Home therapies
- Covering up the areas with makeup or artificial tanning products is the simplest and safest method.
- Use of over-the-counter steroid creams in tiny amounts for a few days may be helpful.
- Gingko extract has been shown to help bring back color in some studies.
- A number of foods, including figs, celery, carrots and parsley contain psoralen. Consumption of these foods followed by exposure to sunlight can cause some restoration of color. However, this treatment can also cause rashes and may actually worsen the vitiligo.
- It is generally advised that you protect your skin from sunlight by wearing sunscreens, long sleeves, hats. Sunburn may aggravate the condition or even cause more skin to become affected by the vitiligo. In addition tanning will make the white skin much more pronounced.
- Do not get any tattoos because the injury to the skin may cause more areas of vitiligo to appear.
How Well do Treatments Work?
There are many other vitiligo home remedies that you can try, but the effectiveness of each remedy will vary from person to person. None of the treatments are highly effective. Results will be different with each and every person. And all of the creams, ointments and oral therapies have side effects, some of which are quite serious. You really need to see a dermatologist if you start to notice patches of skin losing pigmentation. Don’t experiment on your own. There are many home vitiligo treatments that you can try. Get the advice of an expert.