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When diagnosed with Vitiligo, it is natural to know more about the skin condition and how to deal with it. Vitiligo is a disorder characterized by patches of discolored skin. It can also cause white patches on nails, lips, inside the mouth, and eyes. There are different ways by which you can stop it from spreading but let’s know in detail about vitiligo and further its prevention and vitiligo treatment.
What is Vitiligo?
Vitiligo can be defined as a skin condition that causes loss of skin color in blotches. In this condition, the cells that produce pigment (color) in your skin are destroyed or stop functioning. Hence, it causes white patches on different body parts, especially exposed to sun-like faces, hands, and lips. It does not cause any pain but may make you feel embarrassed about how you look. Sometimes, there may also be some itching associated with the disease. Why these cells get damaged is still unknown in most cases; however, it has been linked with family history, autoimmune diseases, and genetics in some instances. Once a person gets Vitiligo, only 10% of people have a chance of re-pigmentation.
What are the leading causes of Vitiligo?
Although the precise cause of Vitiligo is not known, it has been seen that most people affected with Vitiligo have one or more risk factors. The following mentioned are a few main reasons responsible for this skin disorder.
1) Exposure to sunlight: It has been proposed that ultraviolet rays present in sunlight, especially sun tanning lamps or sunshine, can damage melanocytes that lead to loss of color in the skin.
2) Genetic factors: People having a family history of autoimmune disease, neurological disorders, and other inflammatory conditions may be at increased risk of developing Vitiligo. Researchers believe that genetic mutations occur in cells, affecting their growth and functioning, causing skin patches due to pigment loss.
3) Autoimmune diseases: Some autoimmune diseases like thyroid disease, pernicious anemia, Vitiligo, and Addison’s disease results in complete or partial pigment loss.
4) Psychological factors: Stress, depression, and other psychiatric illnesses may influence the development of Vitiligo as they play a significant role in triggering autoimmune diseases, which further damage cells required for skin coloration.
5) Chemical exposure: It was seen that exposure to certain chemicals like petroleum, coal tars and various industrial compounds could eventually damage melanocytes, leading to Vitiligo.
Who gets affected by Vitiligo?
Anyone from any race or gender may get affected by this disease irrespective of their ethnicity. However, some factors might increase your risk of developing Vitiligo, like having a family history of autoimmune diseases, psychological conditions, depression or stress, chemical exposure, and side effects of certain medications.
What are the symptoms of Vitiligo?
- Appearance of white patches on different body parts: It is the most common and first visible sign of Vitiligo. First, it develops in a few areas around your midsection and gradually spreads to other regions like hands, face, neck, and so on.
- Depigmentation:In this condition, there is a progressive loss of color from hair follicles or skin cells that results in white spots, which becomes more noticeable as the melanocytes fall short for delivering color to adjacent keratinocytes (cells that produce pigment).
- Skin lesions:As far as the underlying cause is concerned, usually no symptoms are present; however, specific skin lesions like sores, bumps, or redness may appear due to a lack of protective pigment on the skin.
Vitiligo is not an infectious disease; however, certain microscopic organisms like mites, fungus, and viruses may affect the melanocytes responsible for pigment production, resulting in white patches.
What are the types of Vitiligo?
Based on the location of pigment loss and pattern in which Vitiligo affects the body, the following mentioned are types:
- Focal:White patches or spots occur limited to one region.
- Segmentaloccurs when depigmentation happens around the waistline but does not spread towards the hands and face.
- Mucosal/non- mucosal: In this condition, there is a lack of color around the mouth and nose (mucus membrane). However, the color loss will be limited to parts other than mouth and nose, i.e., ear lobes, chin, forehead, etc.
- Universalis: Affected person loses skin color from all over his body due to destruction oocytes present in epidermis and dermis layer of skin.
How to detect Vitiligo?
A doctor can diagnose the condition after a thorough medical history and physical examination. The doctor will make sure that this is the case by looking at your skin closely for any white patches or spots that make your skin look unevenly pigmented. Following tests may also be advised to arrive at a final diagnosis:
- Blood test to know any autoimmune disease which triggers Vitiligo.
- Wood’s lamp examination to check if there is a lack of pigment in the affected area.
How can you treat Vitiligo?
There are certain medications and treatments available to stop the further progression of pigment loss; however, to date, there is no cure for this disorder. Some of the options include:
1) Topical Corticosteroids: It helps to suppress your immune system, which prevents the body from damaging melanocytes and, in turn, restore color in affected patches. However, long-term use may lead to side effects like thinning skin, stinging sensation when applied and adrenal suppression, etc.
2) UV light therapy: Prescribed by a dermatologist, this treatment exposes patients suffering from Vitiligo under unique lamps that emit UV rays exerting anti-inflammatory activity on cells present in the epidermal layer of skin, thereby leading towards pigment restoration in treated areas.
3) Chemical Peels: This is a type of exfoliating procedure that involves applying a chemical solution to remove the outer layer of skin and pigments present in it for rejuvenation and reduce the appearance of white patches.
4) Microneedling (Collagen Induction Therapy): It is yet another treatment where dermatologists puncture body parts like the leg or arm using tiny needles, which helps restore pigment. But this method comes with its own set of side effects like bruising, swelling, redness, etc.
5) Medications: Medications like Melatonin, Levodopa (used for Parkinson’s disease), Vitamin B12 shots are among other common treatments to control Vitiligo.
How does Vitiligo spread?
Vitiligo spreads when melanin-producing cells die or stop producing pigment. It can affect any age group, but primarily teenagers and young adults are affected by it. Usually, the patches occur in areas with less sun exposure like the scalp, face, neck, armpits, groin, etc. But if you happen to develop dark patches on areas that generally get more sun-like arms and hands, then it may be a reason for worry.
The disease spreads gradually. Stress has also been linked with its fast-spreading; however, one should not worry too much since it affects people differently, and sometimes the condition gets inactive for a few years. Vitiligo does not spread from one person to another as it is an autoimmune disorder, i.e., the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys pigment-producing cells leading to loss of color in patches or spots.
How to prevent Vitiligo from spreading?
Here are the ways you can prevent Vitiligo from spreading:
- Strict Sun Protection:One of the most important measures to prevent Vitiligo from spreading is to protect your skin from the sun. So always wear a wide brim hat, sunglasses, and clothes that cover most of the body like long sleeve shirts, pants etc.
- Cosmetics:One should use cosmetics specifically designed to cover up white patches or spots because their ingredients help restore skin’s standard color, making it appear evenly pigmented.
- Magnetic Therapy: This is a type of therapy in which one applies magnetic patches on the skin directly for a few hours to reduce the patch’s appearance.
- Medicines:Medicines like Levodopa, Vitamin B12, or Melatonin can help in stopping Vitiligo from spreading. Although FDA has not approved it, many people claim that these drugs have worked well.
- Avoid Stressful Situations: Try to reduce stress as much as you can because studies have shown that stress may be linked with fast progression. Stress makes our immune system weak, increasing lesions numbers; hence try to lead a stress-free life.
- Sun Protection:People with Vitiligo should avoid sun exposure as much as they can because the UV rays of the sun may worsen their condition by destroying remaining pigment cells leading to even extensive loss of color.
- Vitiligo Support Groups: Joining support groups helps you meet with other patients and know about the latest treatments available for Vitiligo.
- Psychological counselling: Consult with a psychologist who can help you deal with stress, depression, or any other psychological problem that may occur due to Vitiligo.
There are various effective treatment options available that can help you get rid of the problem. If you notice any changes in your skin, it’s better to consult a dermatologist immediately to determine the type of treatment required for more effective results. You can also prevent Vitiligo with natural home remedies. Here we have discussed some of them:
- Aloe Vera: One can use fresh aloe vera gel, or you can also buy commercial products available in the market. Apply it daily on the affected skin and leave for a few hours; later, you need to wash with lukewarm water. Repeat this procedure daily before going to bed, and within a week, you will see visible results.
- Honey: Honey helps remove dead cells from Vitiligo-affected patches and acts as a natural moisturizer that prevents the area from further damage. Apply honey on affected areas once or twice a day, let it remain on the skin for 20 minutes, and then wash using normal water. This process can be done every alternate day until your disease is controlled completely.
- Lemon Juice: Lemon juice can also help you treat Vitiligo naturally. You need to apply a few drops of fresh lemon juice on affected areas using a cotton ball daily for good results.
- Turmeric:One of the best home remedies for treating Vitiligo is turmeric; one needs to apply it directly on the skin with the help of a cotton ball two times a day. If there are more patches, cover them with a bandage and leave them overnight or at least for a few hours after applying this paste.
- Almond Oil: Applying almond oil helps stimulate melanin production, thus aids in lightening your skin color; it works well for those who want to get rid of patchy skin tone. So apply almond oil mixed with a few drops of lemon juice on the skin to see fast results.
- Castor Oil:Applying castor oil helps in removing discoloration and patches caused by Vitiligo. Apply it directly on the skin and cover with a bandage, leave overnight and wash it off the following day using normal water. Repeat this process for a few months to see visible results.
- Onion Juice: Onion juice is also suitable for treating Vitiligo naturally; you need to extract juice from the onion and apply it directly on the skin with a cotton ball two times a day.
These are some of the best home remedies that help in controlling Vitiligo disease without any side effects. But make sure you consult your skin doctor before using these methods because only he can prescribe treatment per your condition or other health-related issues. You can also visit a homeopathy doctor for vitiligo treatment. Vitiligo treatment in homeopathy is highly effective and safe with no side effects.
Homeopathy treats the patient as a whole; it focuses on their complete physical, mental and social well-being. It emphasizes that each individual is different, and so the treatment also varies from person to person as per their body type, lifestyle, eating habits, etc. Thus, homeopathic treatment for Vitiligo is very safe and effective to avoid further spreading of the disease.
In all the above cases, it’s recommended to use sunscreen lotion while going outside because exposure to the sun intensifies your condition by destroying remaining pigment cells leading to extensive loss of color. Vitiligo can be cured naturally with expert help, so urgently consult a skin specialist without any delay. You can book an appointment through OHO Homeopathy. Our skin doctors and homeopathy doctors will be happy to answer your query if you have any more questions.