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Vitiligo is an autoimmune disease of the skin that causes white patches to appear on different body parts. It can be psychologically and emotionally devastating for some people, as it affects their appearance. There are treatments like steroids used to treat vitiligo, but they have side effects too.
Vitiligo is a disease in which erythematous patches of skin turn white due to the destruction of melanocytes, cells that produce pigment within the skin. Vitiligo affected 1%-2% of all people worldwide and was reported as early as the 4th century BC by Hippocrates.
There are two major types of vitiligo:
Non-segmental: This form of vitiligo commonly affects the trunk and extremities. It does not show any onset at a certain age, location or duration.
Segmental: This type of vitiligo causes white patches to appear on different body parts, usually found in children. The extent, time of appearance, and recurrence are related to each other.
The psychological effects on some people can be devastating due to scarring (when the disease covers large areas) and loss of skin color (when lesions occur near vital organs). Heavy-duty cosmetics are used by people with extensive discoloration caused by the disease.
What are the symptoms of vitiligo?
Vitiligo is a condition that causes the skin to lose its pigmentation and develop white patches. These patches of pigment loss can occur anywhere on the body but often affect areas such as the hands, feet, arms, face, and lips. When vitiligo affects the skin around your eyes, it can cause redness or light sensitivity.
Vitiligo usually develops gradually rather than suddenly appearing overnight. The discoloration may come and go at first before becoming permanent.
Sometimes small areas of lost pigment become more prominent over time, while other patches remain stable for many years before increasing in size or number. Usually, these red or pink-looking patches are flat with well-defined edges. However, sometimes they appear elevated above the surrounding skin, like a pale brown freckle (“milia”).
The symptoms of vitiligo can be upsetting, primarily when the condition affects visible areas such as the face. However, in most cases, vitiligo has no long-term effects on your general health or well-being.
The main concerns are usually cosmetic ones. Red patches caused by depigmentation can make you look ill, and it’s easy to worry that this is due to an underlying illness.
What causes vitiligo?
Vitiligo is related to an autoimmune response in which the body attacks cells responsible for pigmentation.
Autoimmune disorders are caused by one part of the immune system attacking another part. What causes this attack is not known, but genetic factors may play a role since vitiligo does tend to run in families.
Scientists are studying many different immune system components that could be involved with vitiligo, including genes associated with vitiligo susceptibility.
What are the treatment options for vitiligo treatment?
Treatment options include:
- -Topical creams and ointments contain calcineurin inhibitors such as tacrolimus (Protopic) and pimecrolimus (Elidel). These medications reduce immune system activity.
- They are known to be effective, but concerns about possible cancer risks remain since they affect the immune system.
- Phototherapy involves exposing the skin to controlled amounts of natural sunlight or artificial ultraviolet A (UVA) light. This type of light slows down the autoimmune response responsible for destroying pigment-forming cells.
- Patients usually need multiple treatments every week for several months before repigmentation begins and then once a month to maintain the repigmentation.
- -Topical immunomodulatory which are prescription topical medications that alter immune system function in a way that reduces pigment loss.
- Today, most doctors consider prescribing steroids to treat vitiligo; however, steroids have various effects on vitiligo treatment. These effects are elucidated by the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). Let us first discuss some significant results that arise due to taking steroids for vitiligo treatment.
Let’s know the role of steroids in Vitiligo treatment:
Steroids are particularly effective in the repigmentation of hyper-pigmented macules. They have also been shown to decrease the size of individual lesions, but they will not induce repigmentation when applied topically to non-hyperpigmented macules. This finding is important when considering long-term treatment to prevent or diminish vitiligo since it is well known that many patients who seek medical help have already lost large areas at their sites of involvement. Thus, in most cases, for one to consider topical corticosteroids as a viable treatment option, there must be hyperpigmentation present within or surrounding that area.
Side-effects of using steroids for vitiligo:
When using steroids for vitiligo, there should be expectations of side effects occurring. These include:
- Softening of the skin and thinning of the skin with easy bruising.
Difficulty in breathing.
- Elevated blood sugar levels.
- Dilation of blood vessels accompanied by headache.
- Vomiting, stomach ache or pain, nausea, loss of appetite, and diarrhoea.
But with proper use by your physician, these adverse reactions can generally be controlled. If you are taking oral steroids to treat your condition, expect others, including joint pain along with digestive problems such as upset stomach or diarrhoea.
Prolonged use will usually produce undesirable side effects that may require withdrawal from the medication. This is particularly true among patients who have used high doses without medical supervision. There are also cases when side effects become severe enough to force a patient to stop taking the steroid altogether. The prolonged intake could make one dependent, resulting in an inability to stop taking the steroid to treat vitiligo.When it comes to side effects of steroids for vitiligo, sporadic cases also require immediate attention. These include:
-Swelling around lips may cause difficulty in swallowing or breathing.
-Chest pains and difficulty breathing.
This needs emergency medical attention as it is an indication of severe cardiovascular reactions to corticosteroids.
Another side effect of using steroids for vitiligo is the appearance of stretch marks. It appears red, purple, or brownish marks on the skin surface that do not disappear even after discontinuing the medication. Steroids for treating psoriasis can also cause hypertrichosis resulting in the growth of excess body hair, especially on the face, back, stomach and legs.
There are also some side effects of using steroids for vitiligo that do not need immediate attention but should be discussed with your doctor first to prevent further complications on your part. These include:
Slow growth among children who are still in their growing stage.
A lowered immune system is also a possibility that doctors should monitor carefully, leading to severe infections.
When you use oral steroids for treating vitiligo, expect the appearance of typical side effects, especially during the first few weeks. They include:
-Increased urination at night
It requires immediate attention because untreated allergic reactions can lead to severe illnesses, most especially among patients who have weakened immune systems.
What are the critical side effects of steroids for vitiligo:
- Dependency: In the early stages of treatment, patients may feel good when they stop taking steroids. But in most cases, after a long time, they start having this feeling again and are compelled to use them later.
- Hairfall: Patients who have used steroids for vitiligo will face hair fall issues in the past or present. Even during post-cycle therapy, you can avail yourself of help with controlling hair fall from your doctor. However, it is recommended to take care of your scalp and keep it dry.
- Weight gain: In general, people nowadays are very conscious about their weight, so when somebody gains weight with steroid use, they are not comfortable with their looks which leads to depression among many users.
- Suppress immunity: By suppressing immunity, you invite all kinds of diseases into your body.
- Liver damage: The liver is a vital organ that works as a detoxifying agent for the entire body and helps to perform many functions. If you don’t take proper medications, this organ can get damaged with prolonged use of steroids.
- Cardiovascular problems: Your cardiovascular system consists of your heart, kidneys, and veins. If you damage any one of them with steroid use, it will lead to serious health problems later on in life.
- Increased blood pressure levels: Many users suffer from increased blood pressure levels after consuming steroids.
- Cause infertility: Taking high doses of steroids can cause temporary or permanent issues – both men and women – in their ability to conceive.
- Increase the risk of cancer: Cancer is a chronic disease that can affect users who have been on steroid treatment for a long time or those who use steroids without taking any protective measures. In most cases, cancers develop from body parts where steroids are injected, e.g., breast and thighs.
- Narrowing of blood vessels: In some people, especially men, it has been found that using certain types of steroids can contribute to the narrowing of blood vessels over some time.
- Facial hair growth: If you take high doses, long term – there is a chance that you will start growing more facial hair than usual.
Natural and non-steroidal vitiligo treatment:
Ginkgo Biloba Paste: Ginkgo biloba is a plant extract with many medicinal values, including treatment for vitiligo. Take 10 ml of Ginkgo Biloba Paste and mix it with honey to form a thick paste. Apply this on the affected part before going to sleep, wash off in the morning with lukewarm water. Repeat this every day for at least one month or as directed by your physician.
- Aloe Vera Paste:
Aloe vera is known to heal skin conditions such as psoriasis and herpes entirely within two months of usage. Grind fresh aloe vera leaves and extract their pulp. Make a thick paste of it and apply it at night before going to sleep. Wash off in the morning with lukewarm water. Repeat this every day for at least one month or as directed by your physician.
- Lemon and Honey:
Take the juice of the half lemon in a bowl, add honey with the required amount and mix it well. Apply it on the affected parts and wash with lukewarm water after 15 minutes. Repeat this every day before going to bed for at least one month or as recommended by your doctor.
- Fruits Juice:
Mix orange juice with lime juice, apply evenly on the patches using a cotton ball twice daily for four months or till treatment is complete.
- Onion Paste:
Grind onions into a fine paste, extract its juice properly by straining it through cheese cloths, discard the pulp and take the juice only. Apply this onion juice on affected parts and leave it for 15 minutes before washing with lukewarm water. Repeat this process every day to get rid of vitiligo entirely in one month or as prescribed by your doctor.
- Honey and Tomato Paste:
Take two tablespoons of honey, add four teaspoons of freshly extracted tomato juice to it, mix it well and apply on the patches twice daily for a month to get rid of vitiligo finally from your life.
- Curry Leaves Paste:
Extract the juice from 10 – 12 curry leaves, mix it in a tablespoon of honey till curry leaves are fully coated with honey, then apply evenly over affected parts at night before going to bed. Wash off in the morning with lukewarm water. Repeat this process every day for one month to completely get rid of vitiligo.
- Alum and Lime Paste:
Mix alum powder properly with lime juice till it forms a thick paste, then apply evenly over the affected parts at night before going to bed. Wash off in the morning with normal water or shower daily. Repeat this process every day for a month to finally cure the vitiligo of life permanently.
- Turmeric Paste:
Extract fresh turmeric juice properly by grinding/blending, take a teaspoon of turmeric juice, mix it in half tablespoon lime juice, make a fine paste and apply on the patches using cotton ball before going to bed at night daily for at least a month.
Well, these natural remedies may not work for everyone. You can choose homeopathic treatment for vitiligo treatment in that case.
Homeopathic treatment for vitiligo:
- Homeopathic treatment is a more effective treatment over steroidal treatment for vitiligo. Treatment includes treating vitiligo condition, treating its root cause, and treating the deficiency or imbalance in the body.
- Homeopathic treatments are safer and have side effects free than any other treatment for vitiligo. Homeopathic medicines do not have any adverse effects that a person may suffer from steroidal treatment.
- A number of homeopathic remedies are available for curing this skin disorder effectively without causing any adverse effects on health.
- Homeopathy treatment for vitiligo has proven very effective in treating many diseases, including psoriasis, eczema, ringworms, etc. So it can also be assumed as a potent alternative medicine for vitiligo treatment.
If you are tired of taking steroidal treatment for vitiligo and want to switch to natural and alternative homeopathic medicine for vitiligo. In that case, you can consult any reputed homeopathic doctor/specialist in your area. You can book an appointment through OHO Homeopathy today!