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Vitiligo is a skin condition that makes your skin lose its pigmentation. If you have it, you will experience white or patchy areas on your body that seem like they are not part of the rest of your skin. If you have vitiligo, it means that your body is not producing enough melanin. Melanin is the pigment that gives color to your skin. If there are less or none of these pigmented cells in your body, then your skin will lose its colour. If this happens to you, do not panic because it’s not dangerous or life-threatening. The most important thing for you to do is take good care of yourself, especially in the areas where vitiligo appears regularly, so as not to let them hurt or affect your daily living habits. You may feel embarrassed and frustrated with the condition, but don’t let those feelings get in your way when taking proper care of yourself and maintaining healthy habits. Let’s know more about vitiligo and how it spreads to the body.
What causes vitiligo?
Since vitiligo does not present any imminent dangers, you may wonder why and what happens in the body that causes this condition. Let us find out more about the possible causes below:
- Some believe there is a link between Vitiligo and other medical conditions such as thyroid disorders and diabetes. However, experts or doctors have not confirmed these links, so they are still being studied thoroughly.
- Genetics also play an essential role in getting vitiligo because certain families can get this skin condition even if both parents do not have it at all. This means that your family history could either make you prone to vitiligo or keep you safe from getting it.
- There are cases when people develop vitiligo after exposure to extreme stress, mental conditions, or significant traumas. These events can affect the immune system significantly if they greatly affect your overall health psychologically.
- The sun’s ultraviolet radiation is also one of the top triggers for people who have Vitiligo because it speeds up the self-destruction of melanocytes in your body which are responsible for producing colour on your skin. When these cells stop working, it directly affects how pigments are formed, so white patches appear on affected areas eventually.
How does Vitiligo spread?
Vitiligo spreads all over your body, but certain parts seem like they get easily affected by this condition. The most affected parts of the body include your hands, feet, and face, especially if you have a fair skin tone. Most people who get vitiligo also complain of losing their eyebrows or eyelashes, which can be disheartening for those who value beauty and appearance. Here are the signs by which you can know that your vitiligo is spreading:
- Some of the most common signs that vitiligo is spreading around your body include small white spots on your skin which you experience after scratching a part of it. These specks may resemble pimples and may come and go quickly, but they do not cause any harm or discomfort to your skin.
- You would also feel itchiness and tenderness in areas where they appear since these areas are still relatively new to the rest of your body. However, it’s normal for people with vitiligo to experience these symptoms as they spread, depending on how sensitive their immune system is.
- Uneven coloring or white patches can be found in some parts of the affected area if it spreads beyond it. You can quickly notice these changes in color if your vitiligo is in a room with hair since the roots become white.
- Dark skin patches may also appear when vitiligo spreads to other parts of your body, mainly when it occurs on soles, palms, or underneath fingernails where there are fewer melanocytes present. This uneven coloring becomes more noticeable when you get tanned because the remaining melanocytes would not produce pigments properly due to their damage.
- Some areas could also get lighter than usual if vitiligo spreads, so people with darker skin color would immediately notice this change once it happens. You would also feel pain whenever the surrounding skin is exposed to sunlight because no more melanocytes are left to protect these areas.
How is vitiligo diagnosed?
There are specific tests that doctors suggest to patients who have vitiligo to determine whether or not it has spread. These tests are used especially if you are experiencing itchiness, swelling that won’t go away, or new white spots around the area where you had your original vitiligo. However, there is no test available at the moment which can accurately see if vitiligo will spread to other parts of your body since medical experts still need more time to study this skin condition thoroughly.
How do medical professionals treat vitiligo?
The good thing is that diagnosis and treatment for people with vitiligo have progressed over the years. Many research studies now prove their link between genetics and external triggers such as stress and sun exposure. You can get treated for vitiligo and prevent it from spreading if you undergo medical check-ups regularly to ensure that no other parts of your body start developing white patches. Here are the ways by which skin doctor treats vitiligo:
You may be prescribed corticosteroids if the doctor believes that your vitiligo affects other parts of your body. These medications are also used to treat inflammatory skin disorders like psoriasis and eczema since they suppress immune cells, making it harder for them to spread. This treatment can last anywhere from 3 weeks up to 6 months, depending on how well you respond to it, so it’s highly recommended that you take these pills regularly as instructed by your doctor. The downside of this treatment is that side effects are involved, especially if you were to stop taking these pills too soon without consulting a medical professional first.
- Melanocyte transplantation:
This treatment has been around for years since it was discovered in the 1950s. It is a surgical procedure that involves transferring melanocytes from a healthy area of your body to the affected area, where they will produce pigment for you again. These transplanted cells usually come from your hair, so doctors have to shave or clip them before performing this procedure on you. However, there are also cases wherein melanocytes were taken from other parts of your body, so you would need to discuss with your dermatologist beforehand if they recommend getting rid of some healthy tissue to prevent vitiligo from spreading.
- Psoralen photochemotherapy:
This treatment involves exposing the affected areas of your skin to UVB light after taking psoralen pills made from a drug called aminolevulinic acid. Your doctor would have you take these meds beforehand so you can absorb more UV light later on. This kind of therapy is known to destroy the damaged cells in your epidermis so additional white spots will not be formed again in that area. The downside is that this treatment has severe side effects, especially if it’s done in large doses or for an extended period, like skin cancer and cataract development.
- Narrow-band ultraviolet B (NBUVB) therapy:
This kind of phototherapy emits rays much stronger than the usual UVB light, so it’s very effective in getting rid of vitiligo. However, this treatment needs to be done by a professional. The timing and intensity are crucial for you to get rid of vitiligo completely without developing other conditions that may be more serious than this skin condition.
This treatment requires giving psoralen pills to patients who have vitiligo after exposing them to UVA light to destroy pigment-producing cells in their bodies. Once destroyed, these cells cannot produce more dark patches on your skin, so photochemotherapy is considered an effective way of treating vitiligo. The downside is that psoralen pills have some unpleasant side effects like nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, etc.
If you develop vitiligo in several parts of your body, your doctor may also recommend getting
rid of these areas surgically before getting treated for this condition. However, this is not very recommended since the procedure itself could be pretty costly. It would take a lot of time for you to recover from it physically and emotionally. The upside is that there are no side effects involved in this kind of treatment if done correctly by a knowledgeable dermatologist or plastic surgeon. You can enhance your odds of recovering from vitiligo quickly by keeping stress levels low and avoiding exposing yourself to too much sunlight while going through treatments. If none of these treatments work for you, then the only option left is to wait until the rest of your skin develops.
How do you treat Vitiligo?
Vitiligo is considered a cosmetic condition that does not affect your overall health or any vital organ, so it does not require emergency treatments. However, experts recommend early treatment for this condition to avoid further development where vitiligo spreads since nothing much could be done once it gets worse and extensive discoloration begins. There has been no concrete evidence yet as to how one can cure this skin condition, but there are some ways on how you could treat it properly at home:
- Wash your skin regularly with warm water and natural soap that is non-irritating and does not contain chemicals. This will cleanse away dead cells from your pores and hair follicles and ultimately improve your overall health and blood flow.
- Remove scabs and other infected areas from affected parts of your body as soon as you can. This is to make sure that your skin’s overall health is maintained at all times since infections can trigger health issues aside from vitiligo.
- Apply moisturizers regularly, especially on the parts where it gets quickly dried, such as your elbows, knees, and hands. You can also put some hydrocolloid bandages around those areas to keep moisture inside the skin tissues, even outside bath time.
- Natural supplements may help reduce the appearance of white patches and spread them slower than before. Hence, you need to consult a medical professional about taking said supplements or vitamins.
- Exercising regularly can also help you improve your body’s overall health and blood flow so that white patches would be distributed evenly across the affected area.
If vitiligo continues to spread, avoid being exposed to direct sunlight because it could exacerbate the condition since no more melanocytes are left to protect the skin. Also, do not scratch or pick off any white spots on your skin since this will only create scars, but at the same time, it will also lead to discoloration in the surrounding areas. If you have been experiencing vitiligo for years already, consider visiting a homeopathy doctor who can recommend homeopathic treatments that are more convenient for you instead of using conventional remedies since it has already taken a toll on your body for a very long time.
Homeopathic treatment for vitiligo:
Homeopathic treatment for vitiligo focuses on treating the root cause of this skin condition instead of simply managing its symptoms, such as white patches and discoloured areas. However, like any medical treatment, it is still best to consult a homeopath physician first before taking homeopathic remedies since there are certain medications that we need to avoid when we have vitiligo and other autoimmune conditions. You can book an appointment through OHO Homeopathy for more information.