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Vitiligo is a skin condition that causes the loss of color in patches of skin. These white patches are generally symmetrical and can occur anywhere on the body – face, hands, feet, arms, legs, etc. The patches of skin turn white because the pigment-producing cells, melanocytes, are destroyed. Vitiligo is a condition that affects people on an individual basis. Some may have very little or no symptoms, whereas others might experience some symptoms that significantly affect their quality of life. It usually starts with one or two spots of depigmentation, which may enlarge over time. The cause of this condition is not known, but it has been suggested that genetic vulnerability and environmental factors play a role in its development. It can be psychologically distressing to some people who feel stigmatized by their illness and question why they were ‘blessed’ with vitiligo! India is a nation which is considered white skin as a symbol of beauty. The perception changes when someone has vitiligo. India is the country with the most significant number of people suffering from Vitiligo disorder in the world. “Skin color has always played a role in Indian society, where light skin has traditionally been equated with wealth and power, especially for women” We will discuss in detail why vitiligo is a big problem in India.
Discrimination against vitiligo patients:
# Indian society has judged people based on their skin color for many years. An individual with lighter skin generally had more opportunity in education, employment, and marriage which is still the case today. Consequently, there was much discrimination against individuals with darker skin who were seen as inferior to those with lighter complexions. It’s difficult not to wonder how vitiligo affects such judgemental attitudes towards others when that individual is diagnosed with such a condition.
Embarrassment due to vitiligo:
# Many people do not seek treatment for vitiligo because they are embarrassed by their disease. When this occurs, the condition tends to follow a chronic course and can become worse over time. Treatment should be initiated as early as possible to achieve the best results and minimize the psychological impact of the disease.
Vitiligo is considered taboo:
# Vitiligo is regarded as a natural phenomenon and, as such, is often referred to as the “disease of kings” or the “king’s evil.” In ancient times vitiligo was regarded as a sign of leprosy or punishment from God. It has been observed that many people with vitiligo tend to conceal their illness due to fear of adverse reactions from others. As a consequence of this, many tend to suffer in silence. All these factors worsen the condition of vitiligo.
Many consider vitiligo as an infectious disease:
# Having one or more white patches on the skin has sometimes been equated with contagious or infectious diseases. Many people may not understand that Vitiligo is not an infection and is therefore prevented by avoiding contact with affected individuals (or anything they touched). Some believe that one can be cured only if the “original color” flows back into the white spots. This creates fear among those affected by Vitiligo that others might avoid them because of this belief, which further prevents many from seeking treatment.
Vitiligo can affect an individual socially:
# Vitiligo can have some psychological effects on an individual because it may make them feel stigmatized by others, leading to depression. In some cases, people may try to change the color of their skin with dyes to blend in better with those around them, although this can be a dangerous practice.
There’s a general lack of awareness about Vitiligo:
# Many people who have vitiligo tend to keep their disease a secret because they believe it will affect their employment or prevent them from getting married. There is also a myth that this condition is contagious and spreads through physical contact. All these factors contribute towards the fact that many people with vitiligo live in fear and don’t come forward for treatment for this curable condition.
Perhaps the most crucial reason why vitiligo is considered a big problem in India is that most Indians are not aware of dealing with someone suffering from the disease. As noted earlier, most people try to avoid contact with individuals who have vitiligo which only worsens the condition. Raising awareness about this condition is essential and can help overcome the fear of discussing such a disease.
Here is how you can deal with vitiligo in India:
- a) Lifestyle changes –
* Sunscreens can help reduce the worsening of vitiligo. If you have patchy skin (vitiligo), it is best to use physical sunblocks like titanium oxide or zinc oxide, which act as barriers and protect the skin from harmful UV rays. They come in sprays, lotions, and creams. Since sunscreens may leave your skin light-sensitive, it’s better to apply them 15 minutes before stepping out in the sun or go for makeup bases with SPF. Other than sunscreen, maintain a healthy diet by consuming enough fruits and vegetables, staying hydrated, get enough sleep, exercise regularly, and avoid stress, as they all help improve your overall health.
- b) Medications –
* You can take medications like oral or topical steroids, vitamin supplements, and immunomodulators to control the progression of vitiligo. These treatments work best with early exposure to ultraviolet light (UVA rays). A dermatologist may prescribe you PUVA therapy, which involves taking a drug called psoralen and then exposing your skin to UVA light for about 10-15 minutes per session at first and gradually increasing the exposure time. This treatment is most effective when done two times a week for six months or so with a gradual increase in exposure time from 15 minutes up to one hour by using different variations of the phototherapy.
- c) Surgery –
* In cases of extensive vitiligo, surgery is advised to restore the pigment. It is a very effective method in restoring the colour in your skin if done correctly and by a trained dermatologist. A person can use either his hair or synthetic material as a graft to cover the vitiligo-affected skin area. The surgeon will cut out a patch of normal skin from any part of your body, including the face, neck, abdomen, etc., with the hair attached to it. The thin slice containing hair follicles is transplanted on the white patches on your body with microscopically small incisions. In patients with white patches on hands and feet where more significant cuts are required for transplantation, the skin in the abdomen, back, or any other normal skin area is taken out to get transplanted on the hand/feet. While hair transplantation guarantees the natural colour of your hair shafts, cosmetic tattooing helps you match your natural colour with that of the transplants.
- d) Cosmetic camouflage –
* If surgery does not sound right for you, dermatologists have effective treatments to mask vitiligo-affected patches. These include temporary methods like topical or camouflaging creams to make white patches less noticeable and permanent ones like dermabrasion, laser therapy, etc., which will give you a new colour. A dermatologist may also suggest a combination of camouflage and surgery to get the best results.
- e) Vitiligo treatment –
* There are also many alternative therapies like Ayurveda, homeopathy, etc., which claim to treat vitiligo without any side effects. However, it is best to consult a dermatologist before opting for any such treatments, as some therapies may even delay your skin’s recovery process from vitiligo. Focusing on a healthy lifestyle and maintaining a balanced diet will help you deal with vitiligo better. You can also take proper medication and surgery if required. Cosmetic camouflage, along with these remedies, may help restore your natural colour and make you more confident about yourself.
- f) Knowledge about vitiligo –
* Maintain a positive outlook towards life, have good family support, avoid stress, stay away from sun exposure as much as possible and always talk to your doctor if you have any problems with your condition.
- g) You can take a counselling session-
* Counselling is an integral part of treatment. With the therapists, you can deal with your condition by learning ways to cope, particularly if it has affected your emotional or social life. Treatment for vitiligo is not a sure shot. Your condition may not completely recover, but you can make it better with regular visits to your doctor.
If you visit a dermatologist early, it will benefit you as early diagnosis leads to a good prognosis. Vitiligo is more visible on dark skin, so there are chances it may go unnoticed by the person himself. It can be psychologically devastating for a person with vitiligo so being supportive is extremely important. There are treatments available. However, the results vary depending upon the type and extent of disease and individual response to treatment. As India is full of various doctors, including homeopathy doctors, it would be good to consult a doctor from these systems first as they are holistic in diagnosis and treatment.Allopathy uses steroidal drugs like cortisone creams to suppress the immune system, but the disease returns once the patient stops using them, and this is not a permanent solution. In such a case, you can opt for homeopathic treatment.As per the homeopathy system of treatment, homeopathic treatment for vitiligo is highly effective for this problem. Homeopathic medicines are safe, free from side effects, and a natural way to cure vitiligo disease. From its origin, it can be said that nothing has changed in this world over time. Still, with the co-relation of time, many disorders have come into existence whose remedies have been used since ancient days, or these remedies are being derived from plants. Homeopathy is a higher science than all other medical systems as it provides disease management and suggests ways to lead a healthy life.
Benefits of choosing homeopathic treatment for vitiligo:
- Homeopathic treatment for vitiligo is a safe and natural way to get rid of the condition.
- The homeopathic remedies for vitiligo aim at removing the root cause of the disease instead of just hiding its symptoms as most other medications do.
- Since the ingredients in homeopathic medicine stimulate your immune system’s ability to fight against infections and ailments, homeopathic treatment for vitiligo works by restoring the body’s natural ability to heal itself.
- Remedies for skin conditions such as vitiligo are also available in the form of ointments and creams, which contain some of the most effective ingredients derived from plants and minerals. If you have decided to use homeopathic remedies or the cream to treat the condition, you must read all the instructions mentioned on their pack carefully before using them.
- Homeopathy can treat vitiligo in both adults and children; however, only selected remedies are prescribed for children under homeopathic treatment.
Homeopathic Medicine for Vitiligo:
- Thuja Occidentalis:
Thuja occidentalis is an effective homeopathic medicine for vitiligo that has been known to work on the patches of skin of all types. The solution made from this remedy is preferred more than any other homeopathic treatment for vitiligo over the counter, over ointments, and creams. It is found to be very effective in treating vitiligo on the face and neck. The remedy comes with the least number of side effects.
Psorinum is an excellent homeopathic treatment for vitiligo. It is known to work on patches of skin that are either white or reddish. You can get rid of patchy vitiligo within a couple of months by using this medicine regularly. It comes with very mild side effects, if any, and it can be used both for children and adults.
Carcinosin is used to treat vitiligo, usually present in adults and children with mild to moderate intensity. It comes with the least number of side effects when compared to other remedies for vitiligo. It is very effective in not only treating vitiligo but also strengthening your immune system.
Tuberculinum is a homeopathic medicine that is effective for treating vitiligo in both adults and children. It should be used only if the patches of the skin are very itchy or cause other types of discomfort to the patient. Since this medicine acts as an immunity booster, it can be used by people of all ages.
- Arsenicum Sulph Flavum:
Arsenicum sulph flavum is a homeopathic drug that comes in the form of ointments and creams. It is very effective in treating thin skin where patches of skin become lighter when applied. The best part about using this remedy is that it treats vitiligo and strengthens your immune system from the inside.
Before opting for any of the homeopathic remedies for vitiligo, you must get the homeopathic consultation done by a qualified and experienced doctor so that he can suggest the best possible remedy based on your physical and emotional health. You can book an appointment through OHO Homeopathy to know more about homeopathic treatment for vitiligo.