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As we all know, vitiligo is an autoimmune disorder that is not easy to cure. However, it is not impossible to get rid of vitiligo; it is possible to manage it properly. This article will help you understand how different types of treatments can make vitiligo treatment work for you.
Purpose of vitiligo treatment:
- The primary purpose of treatment is to restore standard skin color and prevent the further spread of vitiligo.
- Treatment may not completely cure the disease, but it can help achieve lasting control and improvement in symptoms.
- The choice of treatment for a person should be based on specific features of the disorder in that individual. Vitiligo treatments work best when they are tailored to each patient’s needs.
- Treatment for vitiligo depends first on whether only one patch or multiple patches are involved.
- If more than one lesion is present, other lesions should be treated simultaneously if possible because there is evidence that treating multiple lesions increases the chance of repigmentation occurring at all sites treated.
- As with many conditions, there are medications to treat vitiligo, but their quality and extent of satisfaction vary from person to person.
- Vitiligo is a very challenging disease that requires a lot of patience to deal with it successfully. The treatments that a patient selects for vitiligo significantly affect how successful the treatment will be.
Some of these choices include:
1) Will you use medications or natural remedies?
2) How often will you treat your lesions?
3) What types of treatments will you use?
4) For how long you will stay on them? Many patients become frustrated when they do not see immediate results from the therapy they have been doing. It is essential to understand that results do not show up overnight with most therapies and treatments and may take months to years to see even a slight change.
A common mistake made by many patients is that they assume if their treatment did not work within the first month or two, it probably would not work at all. We say “don’t give up hope” because you might be shocked how excellent results can be achieved with the proper persistence and determination.
Here are the treatment options for vitiligo:
- Topical Corticosteroids (TCS)
They are the most commonly used therapy for vitiligo. They must be applied daily for months to years to achieve repigmentation, and they do not work well by themselves in many cases. However, when used with phototherapy(PUVA or UVB), they can speed up or enhance repigmentation. It is important to note that all TCS has side effects, such as thinning of the skin, acne formation, erythema, etc., but this varies from patient to patient. Higher concentrations of steroid creams(Class 1-4) tend to cause more side effects than lower ones. Many TCS also contain additives like Vaseline, making the cream thicker and more difficult to spread.
- Photo(light) Therapy
This is a well-known therapy for vitiligo that has been used for decades. UV light from different sources can be used, such as PUVA, UVB, UVA1, etc. It is essential to understand that not all types of phototherapy work equally well in the repigmentation of vitiligo lesions. Some are considered to be much better than others based on extensive research. For example:
-PUVA works best for treating non-segmental vitiligo on the body but poorly in face or neck areas due to increased skin cancer risk after years of usage.-UVB works well for non-segmental vitiligo on the body and is relatively safer with less risk of developing skin cancer.
UVA1 works best for vitiligo in segmental distribution, which only pigments lesions in one side of the body. The other half typically does not get any color, even with extended usage of light therapy.
The effectiveness of light therapy varies from patient to patient. Still, suppose you are using it at home under close supervision by your treating physician. You have a much better chance of success than trying to do this independently or at a spa. Specialized phototherapy light can help treat multiple localizations of vitiligo more efficiently when used along with TCS.-The combined use of TCS and phototherapy is the best option for repigmentation in vitiligo.
- Combined Approach
The most common example of this would be the combination of PUVA and corticosteroids. The downside to this approach is that it can cause side effects from both therapies, including sunburn/increased sensitivity to sunlight, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, etc. These side effects increase with higher usage of UVA light. Some patients have reported not being able to tolerate this therapy due to these potential problems, while some have had great success with controlling their vitiligo while using it. Another way you can combine medications and phototherapy is by applying a class 1 or 2 steroid cream to the vitiligo spots exposed to the topical phototherapy light, typically UVB.
This means removing all pigment from the body by applying mono benzyl ether of hydroquinone (MBEH) for months or years until no color returns. (semi-permanent makeup like tattooing cannot be used as they only last a few years). Once the color returns after successful repigmentation therapy, it may stay for a few years and then gradually fade away again. It is possible that this could be permanent if you manage to go long enough without any additional vitiligo spots forming. The advantage of depigmentation is that there are no side effects, unlike light or steroid treatments, and it can be used on all parts of the body, including face and neck areas. This is rarely used for repigmentation therapy due to the complicated nature of the treatment, but it could be considered if other options fail.
- Camouflage therapy:
This usually means applying tattoos, makeup, or other coloration techniques to vitiligo patches to make them less noticeable. This is an excellent option for people who are embarrassed or ashamed of their condition due to appearance concerns. You must use a licensed professional with experience in this area because it can be tricky sometimes. Not all tattoo colors look natural on the skin, and your doctor should be able to guide you accordingly.
A relatively new treatment approach that has risen in popularity due to its demonstrated success rates. Studies have shown that injections directly into depigmented lesions cause repigmentation within weeks. These injections contain the same chemicals used for allergy treatments which are applied topically as creams.
This is typically reserved for segmental vitiligo on the face and mucosal surfaces of the body, where repigmentation with topical therapies may not be possible. Grafting techniques can be used to place skin from another area of the body (like inner thighs) over the affected site and are usually done under general anesthesia in a doctor’s office or operating room. It is generally effective, but it can take up to a year before you see the final results. This procedure does carry risks like scarring, changes in sensation, and pigmentation problems such as hyperpigmentation of (loss color).
- Natural treatment:
This treatment method involves stopping the progression of vitiligo and then restoring color to the affected areas with natural ingredients. Patients have seen good results using natural treatments, but most doctors do not recommend them due to their lack of evidence and a lower likelihood of success.
- Vitiligo Diet:
A healthy diet may have a beneficial effect on vitiligo by increasing your immune system function and, in turn, making it easier for it to fight off the virus that causes the condition in the first place. Although there is no concrete proof for this being an effective treatment option, it’s worth considering when you’re looking for alternative options.
Injections into depigmented lesions have been successful in restoring color within weeks. They contain the same chemicals used for allergy treatments which are applied topically as creams. This should only be performed by a licensed professional with experience in this field.
- Sun Protection:
Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun can cause more damage to affected areas. It should be avoided if possible, especially for children who are also more susceptible to developing skin cancers later on in life. It would help if you protected yourself with clothing, hats, and sunscreen when out in the sun.
- Diet Supplementation:
Research done by Dr. Elke Hacker has found that taking 150 micrograms of zinc each day has provided effective results for her patients with vitiligo. However, care must be taken not to take too much as high doses can lead to toxicity. Zinc deficiency may play a role in the development of vitiligo, so it makes sense to supplement with a good quality multivitamin supplement that provides a balance of nutrients.
The best natural supplements for treating vitiligo contain antioxidants; these help the body fight off free radicals that can sometimes trigger conditions such as Vitiligo. All vitamins A, C, and E have antioxidant properties, and some research has been done into their potential effectiveness in improving depigmentation. Vitamin A is also included in many skin creams marketed specifically for vitiligo patients. Some evidence also suggests that omega-three fatty acids reduce inflammation within the body and may prevent new pigment loss. For more information, visit our page on Vitamins for vitiligo.
- Psychological Harm:
It is essential to understand that vitiligo is an often misunderstood condition, and many people who have it report low self-esteem, depression, and social anxiety disorder. Some studies also show a high incidence of suicide in patients with the condition. You must seek advice from your doctor or another qualified professional if you feel that you might be suffering some form of psychological distress, as this can affect your quality of life and treatment program.
Studies have shown that patients with vitiligo had significant improvement in their pigmentation after acupuncture treatments. This has led researchers to believe that stimulating specific points on the body can activate inactive melanocytes (cells responsible for average pigment production). However, there is no evidence yet as to exactly how this process occurs.
- Hyperbaric Oxygen Chamber:
Although not a proven effective treatment method, many people with Vitiligo claim that spending time in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber helps improve their skin color and reduce the damage caused by environmental factors such as sun and windburn.
- Homeopathic treatment:
Homeopathy has witnessed tremendous growth in popularity for treating skin diseases. The main reason is that homeopathic medicines are free from any harmful side effects. When taken in low potency, these medicines can even improve the immunity of the body and thus help in general well-being. Homeopathic remedies made from natural sources such as minerals, plant extracts, etc., have been used to treat skin diseases for many centuries. Since homeopathy treats the person as a whole, it is pretty effective in treating skin conditions that afflict physically and psychologically.
Tips to prevent vitiligo:
- Avoid sunlight or use sunscreen an hour before going out.
- Try to avoid boiling water while bathing. Use lukewarm water for your bath.
- Drink enough water, at least 8-10 glasses every day, to keep your skin hydrated from the inside.
- Protect yourself against the sun by using sunscreen with SPF 20 or more.
- Avoid smoking and intake of alcohol which cause dehydration in your skin, making it weak and susceptible to sun damage.
- Eat fresh fruits especially green leafy vegetables like spinach, broccoli, etc. which are rich in vitamin B12
- Try not to eat food containing saturated fats as it can clog the small blood vessels in your skin and cause damage.
- Try to avoid stress as it increases your body’s cortisol levels, which plays a
significant role in causing Vitiligo.
- Avoid harsh soaps on your skin. Try to use moisturizing soaps with natural ingredients, preferably made with plant oils.
- Apply oil before you go out to protect your skin from sun damage.
Here are the ways by which dermatologists or skin doctors make your treatment work for you. For detailed consultation and information, you can book an appointment through OHO Homeopathy.