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Vitiligo is a common pigmentary disorder of uncertain pathogenesis that involves progressive loss of melanocytes in one or more patches of skin that may enlarge with time to form large areas devoid of normal pigmentation (depigmented macules). The site may remain stable for years or increase in size, giving rise to what is referred to as “confetti vitiligo.” Let’s discuss the pros and cons of untreated and treated vitiligo.
What happens if you leave vitiligo untreated?
- Unsightly appearance:
Vitiligo is asymptomatic. It does not produce any physical discomfort, but the appearance of white patches on the skin may reduce a person’s self-confidence and lead to psychological issues such as depression. The resulting aesthetic impact leads many patients to seek medical advice.
- Risk of endocrine disorders:
The association between vitiligo and diabetes or thyroid disease was first described by Halata et al. in 1982. More than 20 endocrine associations have been identified for this pigmentary disorder, including adrenal gland abnormalities, pituitary disease, parathyroid diseases, etc. In some cases, untreated vitiligo has been associated with adverse effects on fertility and pregnancy outcomes, thus creating a significant problem.
- Increased risk of sunburn:
Patients with vitiligo have an increased susceptibility to sunburn because they frequently lack pigment that protects against ultraviolet light (sunlight). Besides, even if they produce some melanin (brown pigment) in their skin, it may be insufficient and provide little or no protection against UV damage. A higher percentage of patients with vitiligo develop non-melanoma skin cancers than those who don’t suffer from this disorder.
- Higher risk for other health conditions:
Vitiligo has been associated with thyroid disease, pernicious anemia, Addison’s disease, etc. In one study published in the Journal of American Academy of Dermatology, 12% of vitiligo patients were found to have thyroid cancer compared to 1% in the non-vitiligo population. Autoimmune diseases are also a risk factor for vitiligo, and the best way to prevent them is by treating your depigmentation disorder.
Rarely, some patches may go away or decrease in size. As vitiligo is not a condition that causes pain, patients feel it is unnecessary to treat it. However, some patients may want to lighten the color of the patches or improve their appearance.
What is the aim of vitiligo treatment?
- To improve the appearance of your skin:
Treatment aims to improve the appearance of areas with vitiligo patches by making them less noticeable. Sometimes depigmentation agents (topical or intralesional) are used to make white spots look less noticeable by changing their color to match surrounding standard pigment; these agents may be used alone or in combination with other medications depending on how extensive your lesions are and what color they are (white, black, red, etc.).
- To stop increasing the size of vitiligo macule:
If your vitiligo is stable, you might want to keep it under control. Some treatments can slow down the progression of vitiligo; the skin color remains the same but avoids growth in new patches or worsens existing spots.
- To protect your skin against sun damage:
Unpigmented lesions may become more vulnerable to sun damage than normal skin. Because of their lack of melanin (pigment), they cannot absorb damaging ultraviolet rays and are susceptible to sunburn. If you want to enjoy your life without worrying about irritating white spots, vitiligo treatment is the only solution that can brighten up your life.
- To prevent or reduce psychological stress:
Psychological stress caused by the appearance of depigmented macules may be reduced after successful treatment. Improved appearance with restored color often reduces anxiety in people with vitiligo, thereby improving their overall quality of life; however, it takes time for most patients to get used to their new look, even if it’s an improvement compared to how they looked before vitiligo.
- To prevent autoimmune diseases:
Depigmentation agents act by suppressing the immune system. Thus they have the ability to stop the autoimmune processes that destroy skin cells responsible for pigment production; this can help you stay away from autoimmune skin disorders such as vitiligo. In addition, there is evidence of a positive effect of photochemotherapy with psoralen and ultraviolet. Radiation (PUVA) can help prevent or delay the onset of systemic sclerosis.
Is vitiligo treatable?
Yes, it is! Treatments for vitiligo are designed to stimulate your body’s natural pigmentation process, and repigment previously depigmented areas. This means that the affected skin is restored to its usual color. Many treatments are available, but some work better than others depending on the patient’s age, location of white patches, the extent of vitiligo, etc.
What are the benefits of treating vitiligo?
- Restore your skin to its original color:
The most apparent benefit of treating vitiligo is the restoration of your skin to its usual color. It means that all areas affected by this condition are repigmented, so it will be easier to camouflage these white spots with normal pigment from surrounding areas.
- Restore confidence and self-esteem:
Unpigmented macules can cause embarrassment and loss of self-esteem, such as lack of desire to socialize with friends or strangers, insecurity in public, etc. Most people think white spots are contagious. That’s why they avoid physical contact with affected patients; vitiligo treatment won’t remove your vitiligo altogether, but it will decrease the area of depigmentation to make you look better and feel more confident.
- Improve the quality of life:
Vitiligo is a rare disorder affecting 0.5% to 2% of the population worldwide; about 350 million people worldwide have vitiligo; there is no gender difference, and all races are susceptible. Vitiligo treatment improves the quality of life and restores performing day-to-day tasks such as self-care and socializing.
- Boost Immunity:
Research has shown that depigmentation agents act by suppressing the immune system; this can help you stay away from autoimmune skin disorders such as vitiligo. In addition, there is evidence of the positive effect of photochemotherapy with psoralen and ultraviolet. Radiation (PUVA) on collagen metabolism, which may help prevent or delay the onset of systemic sclerosis. This means treatment option for vitiligo not only improves your appearance but it also boosts your immune system.
What do treatments for vitiligo involve?
Depigmentation: This method involves bleaching your skin; this process may not restore your skin to its original color, but it will decrease the area of depigmentation to make you look better.
Electrolysis is a form of permanent hair removal that delivers mild electrical current into the follicle, which damages the growing cells and stops them from producing hair. The procedure can be used on small patches of white hairs or complete scalp with white hair only if it’s a limited area.
Skin grafting: Skin grafts are most successful in extensive vitiligo, where the borders of the white patches are well defined.
Symptomatic treatment: This method is used along with other medicines to relieve some symptoms. Topical steroid creams can be helpful for itching and inflammation, while psoralen plus ultraviolet A (PUVA) combination light therapy is effective in controlling the depigmentation process.
Cosmetic treatment: Various methods may conceal white patches, such as tattooing, camouflage, and color blending techniques.
Topical Medications: All topical medications such as Tacrolimus and Pimecrolimus may be used along with PUVA treatment.
Systemic Medication: Treatment for vitiligo involves psoralen and ultraviolet A (PUVA) or oral drugs such as orally administered ciclosporin (taken once a day).
Laser treatment: Phototherapy with different lasers such as Pulsed dye laser and Long-pulsed dye laser.
What are the risks associated with treatment for vitiligo?
Treatments for vitiligo may cause side effects such as dry and scaly skin, itching, and burning sensation; some topical medications like steroids may cause acne and hair growth on patchy areas, while another topical cream can cause darkening of surrounding skin. PUVA treatment may result in nausea, headache, sunburn, and increased risk of skin cancers, while oral medications such as ciclosporin can cause high blood pressure and Narrow-angle glaucoma.
Treatment for vitiligo requires a long-term commitment, regular follow-up to monitor progress, and good compliance from your side.
What’s the success rate of vitiligo treatment?
Vitiligo treatment stimulates the natural pigmentation process in your body to re-pigment previously depigmented areas, so you look better and feel more confident about yourself. Vitiligo treatment options vary depending on age, the extent of skin damage, etc.; some treatments work well for lighter patients while others are recommended for darker individuals. The success rate is different for each patient; if you want a lasting result, you need to combine all available vitiligo treatment methods and follow your dermatologist’s instructions to get the maximum benefit from any therapeutic method.
Is it possible to re-pigment my skin without any treatment?
No, it is not possible to re-pigment your skin without any treatment. In case if you are worried about starting the vitiligo treatment, you can help with natural therapies that can help you stop the progress of vitiligo. There are alternative treatments available, like homeopathic treatment for vitiligo, which will treat your vitiligo and cure it of the root cause.
Here are some natural ways to treat vitiligo:
- Grape Seed Extract:
The grape seed extract is a fantastic antioxidant that helps to kill free radicals and, as a result, protects your skin from any further damage. Grape seed extracts can also help to stop the melanocytes damage and reduce the discoloration of the skin. One of the best things about grape seed extracts is that they treat vitiligo and prevent it.
- Kojic acid: Kojic acid is an antibacterial agent that helps reduce melanocyte damage and stop the discoloration of the skin by killing bacteria. As kojic acid can penetrate deep into your skin, so it’s pretty effective in treating both the early and late stages of vitiligo.
- Turmeric: Curcumin, one of the primary compounds found in turmeric, is known for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory properties, which help control the depigmentation process and reverse patches naturally without any side effects.
- Soybeans: Soybean extract has reasonable quantities of antioxidants called soy catechins that stimulate pigment production in your skin and help repigment the previously depigmented areas. Soy catechins in soybeans can also prevent your body from UV damage which is one of the significant causes of vitiligo.
- Gingko Biloba:Gingko Biloba is a herb containing antioxidants with promising therapeutic potential to treat vitiligo. Ginkgo Biloba can also stimulate the pigmentation process in the skin and promote melanocyte formation by strengthening the capillaries, blood vessels, and lymph nodes so you can get rid of your white patches naturally without any harmful side effects.
- L-Tyrosine: L-Tyrosine is an amino acid that stimulates tyrosinase production in your body and increases melanocytes activity to repigment your skin as well as prevents further damage from UV irradiation.
- Folic acid: Folic acid plays a vital role in cell division and metabolism; it helps to improve immunity, reduce stress, and prevent further damage to skin cells.
- Melatonin: Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced in your body; it helps protect your skin against UV damage, reduces stress, and improves sleep, which are all crucial factors for vitiligo treatment.
- Aloe Vera: Aloe vera has natural antibiotic, antioxidant properties that help fight infections caused by bacteria or fungus and heal skin lesions faster than any other conventional medicine without any side effects.
- Homeopathic treatment for vitiligo: A natural and safe way to treat it is a homeopathic treatment for vitiligo; it has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-depigmentation properties, making it the best alternative available for your skin condition.
Benefits of using the homeopathic treatment for vitiligo:
- A natural treatment with no side effects
- It can be used in both the early and late stages of vitiligo
- Can treat the root cause of your depigmentation disorder effectively
- Can normalize pigment production by stimulating tyrosinase activity
- Can reduce stress level
- Repair damaged skin tissues
- Can stop further lesion formation on your skin
- Treats active lesions even in severe stages of vitiligo without any harm
As you can see, there is s permanent solution for your skin disorder without any harmful effects, which you will see in conventional treatment options available. So, there is no question to leave your vitiligo untreated. Get your vitiligo treatment now and book an appointment through OHO Homeopathy.