Vitiligo Treatment

Vitiligo is a skin condition that causes white patches to appear on the skin in an unpredictable manner. The cause of Vitiligo is still unknown and many theories have been stipulated. There is a general consensus that Vitiligo arises as a result of problems in the body’s auto immune system. These problems are caused when the melanin producing cells do not give the skin its natural coloring. Vitiligo patches are jagged at the edges and may appear unsightly and cause sufferers a terrible about of emotional trauma and subsequent loss of self esteem.

Although Vitiligo cannot be cured, it can be treated in many ways. Vitiligo sufferers are encouraged to take heart and opt for more than one treatment method. This is because no specific treatment method had returned 100% positive results. A tiny percentage of Vitiligo sufferers can experience pigmentation return to their skin naturally without any treatment. This group is almost negligible in number, hence most Vitiligo sufferers are asked to seek treatment if they cannot live with their condition as it is.

Vitiligo is not infectious or contagious and among the methods that specialists have devised to treat this condition are ranging from natural, herbal, medical and surgical. Change of the mental mindset into a more positive frame must be practiced repeatedly and maintained throughout any course of treatment. The treatment methods for Vitiligo are long term in nature hence the Vitiligo sufferer must exercise lot of patience as they await a favorable sign on their skin.

  • Vitiligo sufferers who want to treat their condition at home have a god place to start. Home Vitiligo remedies start with a total overhaul of the diet. A diet rich in grains, fruits and vegetables should be adopted. Avoidance of alcohol and tobacco is not an option. Home remedies that can be used include various mixtures of different plants easily available at homelike ginger, turmeric, black pepper and celery.
  • Other herbal treatments available for the treatment of Vitiligo include;
    • Herbal remedies – where various herbs like psoralens are used widely. Psoralens occur naturally and activate the skin to tan from the effects of the suns radiation. This enhancing the skins natural pigment formation process. Psoralens are found in figs, parsley, west Indian satinwood and celery.
    • Oral psoralen therapy – where psoralen corylifolia is eaten in many recipes. A Vitiligo can also soak the plant in water overnight and then drink the residue solution in the morning. When combined with limited sun exposure can prove effective. However most Vitiligo sufferers dread this method because of the unpleasant taste of the solution since large quantities are required for intake, nausea, allergic symptoms, and over pigmenting on normal skin patches. This is a short term treatment and losses its effect when the Vitiligo sufferer ceases using it. Psoralens must be used with the guidance of an expert.
    • Topical psoralen treatment where a topical psoralen based cream is applied to the affected skin area. The most potent psoralen based cream in this is Vitilax ™ that is more long lasting than its oral alternative.
    • Homeopathy – where the Vitiligo sufferer is treated by an expert in homeopathy.
    • Ayurvedic treatment – where the Vitiligo sufferer is treated by an ayurvedic specialist.
  • Prescription medicine – where Vitiligo sufferers take their treatment from a qualified physician. The medicine prescribed in usually with the laws of the resident country and allowable for public use. Prescription drugs are also very expensive.
    • Topical steroid therapy – where steroid based creams are used to suppress the immunity system and slow down the progress of the Vitiligo. Mild steroids are ideal for children but more potent ones are good for adults. Steroid based creams are adviseable in the early stages of Vitiligo. Their use should never exceed 3 months and their overall effect is temporary. The side effects of steroid use are well known hence this treatment is never a long term option.
    • Psoralen photo chemotherapy – where Psoralens and UV light from the sun are combined to treat Vitiligo. This is an excellent method of enhancing skin pigmentation. It has long term effects.
  • Surgical therapy treatments – a trained sugean is needed to perform skin procedures to correct the Vitiligo skin disorder. Surgical procedures are genrally the moost expensive methodsof treating Vitiligo.
    • Autologous skin grafts – where the normal skin from one part of the body is grafted onto the Vitiligo skin. The results for this procedure are not predictable and some may become worse than before. Added risks here include permanent scaring and surgical infections.
    • Skin grafts using blisters – where the normal pigment skin in grown artificially in form of blisters. This new skin is then removed and used to graft on top of the Vitiligo skin. The success rate is low although the risk of scarring is less.

Surgical Therapy

Autologous melanocyte transplants – The pigment containing skin from one area of the body is surgically shifted to an area where there is no pigment. The procedure has shown some promise, but is not widely available, because it is still in its experimental stages.

Tattooing - Tattooing is not a traditional vitiligo treatment but used as a camouflage technique, it is done with artificial pigments which are deposited into the skin, with the help of traditional tattooing needles or by surgical techniques in present scientific era. The accuracy of color match shall depend upon the skill of the person doing it. It will work best for darker skins, and the color may become lighter with the passage of time. There are risks of serious infections spreading with tattooing through traditional methods. Tattooing should only be carried out by certified and licensed professionals.

Vitiligo Treatment with UVB

Vitiligo is a little understood skin disorder in which white patches appear on the skin. It may sound harmless and simple enough but this happens because the melanocytes, pigment-producing cells, stop production of the pigments. This puts the affected individual at a high risk of developing serious ailments like skin cancer as there is no protection from sun damage.

Although there is no known cure or home remedies for the disorder, phototherapy has given sufferers of vitiligo some hope for a normal life. This line of treatment has in fact been around for millennia, with traditional methods employing sunlight and plants containing natural psoralens. This method of treatment has come to be the most promising for patients with vitiligo.

Ultra violet light or UV light can be classified into different types with varying wavelengths and energy. UVA and UVB are two such types that have been used to treat vitiligo. Research suggests that treatment with UVB light is particularly effective. UVB in natural sunlight is quite low but it has high energy and can cause greater damage to the skin. When used in a controlled environment however it can be extremely beneficial.
UVB phototherapy is conducted through irradiation with short wave ultraviolet radiation. The patient stands undressed in a cubicle or cabinet, with fluorescent light tubes, that is specially designed for treatment of the entire body. UVB treatment may involve broadband or narrowband UVB, but narrowband has come to be more preferable.

Although one of the most effective vitiligo treatment, patients and practitioners alike need to exercise caution as the skin can sustain damage very easily, and the process could also be slow, taking several months for any visible improvement.

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