Vitiligo is a skin condition and pigmentation disorder in which melanocytes (the cells that make pigment) in the skin are destroyed. It produces irregular white patches or circles that start to appear on the skin in different parts of the body. It is not limited to the outer part of the skin, but the white patches can also appear on the tissues that line the inside of the mouth, nose, retina (inner layer of the eyeball) and scalp. Sometimes, the hair will become white if it grows directly on the area affected already by vitiligo.
Medical research show that Vitiligo is sometimes traced to people who has various autoimmune diseases like hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid gland), adrenocortical insufficiency (when the adrenal gland does not produce enough of the hormone called corticosteroid), alopecia areata (patches of baldness) and pernicious anemia (when there is a low level of red blood cells caused by the failure of the body to absorb vitamin B12).
Vitiligo is not an infectious disease nor is it communicable and transmittable. It can be inherited. What is sad about this skin condition is that it primarily affects the psychological and emotional well-being of the patient. Because of its unusual appearance on the patients skin, some patients develop inferiority complex that often leads to social isolation and mental anguish.
There are 3 options in curing vitiligo – medical therapy, surgical therapy and the natural method. These cures and therapies are to be decided by a doctor depending on the gravity of vitiligo on your skin – the location, size and how widespread it already is.
• Topical steroid therapy. Steroid creams are helpful in repigmenting white patches. This should be done in the initial stages of the disease. Doctors often prescribe a mild topical corticosteroid cream for children under 10 years old and a stronger one for adults. You must apply the cream to the white patches on the skin for at least 3 months before seeing any results.
• Psoralen photochemotherapy. Psoralen is a drug that contains chemicals that react with ultraviolet light to cause darkening of the skin The goal of PUVA therapy is to repigment the white patches. Though time consuming, it has side-effects because it is taken by mouth (orally) or applying it to the skin (topically). This is followed by carefully timed exposure to sunlight or to ultraviolet A (UVA) light that comes from a special lamp.
• Topical psoralen photochemotherapy. The doctor or nurse applies a thin coat of psoralen to your white patches for 30 minutes then they expose that area to enough UVA light to turn it pink. Best use for people with a small number of depigmented patches affecting a limited part of the body only and for children age 2 and older.
• Psoralen photochemotherapy. Used for people with extensive vitiligo (affecting more than 20 percent of the body) or for people who do not respond to topical PUVA therapy.
• Depigmentation. This is best for patients who have 50% of vitiligo in their bodies already. It involves fading the rest of the skin on the body to match the areas that are already white. Patients then apply the drug monobenzyl ether of hydroquinone (monobenzone) twice a day to pigmented areas until they match the already-depigmented areas.
• Autologous skin grafts. This is skin grafting where the doctor removes a healthy skin from one area of your body and attaches it the depigmented part of your skin.
• Skin grafts using blisters. The doctor creates blisters on your pigmented skin by using heat, suction or freezing cold. The tops of the blisters are then cut out and transplanted to a depigmented skin area.
• Micropigmentation (tattooing). This procedure involves implanting pigment (color) into the skin with a special surgical instrument. It works best for the lip area.
• Natural method
• Use cosmetics (to cover the affected area)
• Get out and bask in the sun
• Maintain a healthy diet
• Avoid constricting the affected area to tight clothing