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Vitiligo is a skin disease that results in white patches on the skin. It is also sometimes called Leucoderma. These white patches are caused when the pigment-producing cells known as melanocytes die or stop functioning. Vitiligo affects people of all races, both sexes, and all ages. It can occur at any body site, including the face, neck, lips, inside the mouth, and even genitals. However, it usually appears on sun-exposed areas like arms, hands, legs, etc.
Vitiligo can affect self-confidence and cause emotional trauma to those who have it. The appearance of these white spots causes embarrassment among sufferers; they fear that others may see them only as a patient with this skin condition. In many cases, it has been seen that other diseases like stress and anxiety might get worse due to vitiligo. The feeling of being stigmatized sometimes causes depression, which gives rise to other problems like insomnia or excessive fatigue.
Vitiligo is caused due to lack of certain chemicals in the system, which stops white blood cells from attacking melanin-producing cells.
This condition’s exact cause is still unknown, but many experts believe that it may be genetic in origin as vitiligo is seen on a family basis.
In some people, it can occur due to other conditions, including thyroid disorders, Addison’s disease, or even the following trauma to the skin (like sunburns).
In many cases, there are no apparent causes for vitiligo. However, it has been shown that vitiligo patients who smoke or drink alcohol excessively have a greater risk of getting vitiligo. Vitiligo is also said to be an autoimmune disease which means that the body’s immune system attacks its cells.
Symptoms of Vitiligo:
The first and most apparent sign of vitiligo is white patches on the skin in different parts of your body. They may sometimes have sharply defined edges (frequently referred to as “non-soy” or “cafe au lait” borders). Still, more often, they can resemble a patchy dusting of flour, made up of unevenly shaped milky areas which can vary in size from tiny across to several inches wide. There are some patches with no pigment at all, and these appear pinkish-white because the blood vessels show through.
The effects of vitiligo can be seen on the scalp, on hair-bearing areas like the face, neck, and other body parts, etc. In some sufferers, it may lead to complete loss of hair in these areas.
Who can get vitiligo?
Vitiligo can affect anyone, but it is more noticeable and frequently found in people with darker skin. Vitiligo affects about 1% of the population worldwide. It can occur at any age. However, most commonly, vitiligo appears before or during adolescence, i.e., before 20 years.
Types of Vitiligo:
The different types of vitiligo are broadly categorized into two, known as:
- a) Non-segmental Vitiligo: The commonest form where patches appear on the skin. This is also called bilateral vitiligo. As mentioned earlier, it can affect any part of the body, including the face and genitals. In some cases, lesions may appear at distant sites which have no direct contact with each other (for example, a lesion, on the one hand, does not spread to another hand). Any hair in that area would be lost during disease.
- b) Segmental or Localized Vitiligo: Here, only a few areas like eyelids, underarms, etc., are involved in this type of disease. Generally, segmental vitiligo occurs in one area of the body.
Treatments For Vitiligo:
1) Creams and lotions: Many creams and lotions are available in the market that claims to restore skin color. However, none of them has been shown to work with 100% success as yet. Some of these treatments may only be effective for some people for limited periods, while others may provide relief from itching, burning sensation, or pain associated with vitiligo. These treatments include anti-inflammatory drugs like corticosteroids (steroid creams), calcineurin inhibitors (pimecrolimus cream), tacrolimus (Protopic ointment), and 5-aminolevulinic acid (Levulinic acid cream). Other medicines include antihistamines, vitamin B12/nicotinamide, various herbal medications like leflunomide, etc.
2) Light therapy: This treatment uses ultraviolet rays from the sun or artificial UV light to make skin color normal again. It is helpful in some cases but does not work well on large areas of white patches. If it is used, you may need to take precautions against sunburn and damage to your eyes.
3) Phototherapy with Ultraviolet A (UVA): This type of phototherapy effectively makes skin color normal again and relieves symptoms of vertigo when combined with a medicine called psoralen. Psoralen is given as a pill one hour before UVA treatment.
4) Phototherapy with Ultraviolet B (UVB): This type of phototherapy is not often used for vitiligo because it can cause sunburns and damage the eyes. However, it might help in some cases when combined with medicines called psoralens.
5) Narrowband UVB: In this form of phototherapy, there is less chance of getting sunburnt, but it might not make skin color normal completely like other methods mentioned above. It may take a longer time than other forms of treatment.
6) Topical immunomodulatory: Some creams and ointments containing tacrolimus and pimecrolimus may be helpful in some cases. However, it has been linked to several side effects like headache, fever, burning sensation at the application site, etc.
7) Surgical procedures: There are two types of surgical treatments for vitiligo. The first method is called autologous skin grafting, which involves taking a small piece of normal skin from an area with hair (like scalp), removing the affected pigment cells from this strip of leather, and some healthy ones to get rid of white patches on your body. Later this strip of skin is grafted back onto another area having a vitiligo patch. This procedure has specific risks, such as swelling, scarring, or infection, but it does not require taking medicines. The second method is called melanocyte transplantation which involves removing pigment cells (melanocytes) from normal skin, growing them in a laboratory, and later transplanting them back into the affected area to restore color. This procedure is mainly done for the eyes.
8) Chemical treatments: There are reports of people having some success with low concentrated bleach baths (sodium hypochlorite). However, this treatment may cause swelling, blistering, and pain if used on large body areas or sensitive areas like genitals and face. It should be used carefully under close supervision only.
9) Colloidal silver: Some people have claimed that colloidal silver helps treat vitiligo by restoring color to affected patches, but there is no evidence to prove this claim.
10) Diet: People have claimed that vitiligo worsens after taking certain foods or beverages (coffee, tea, chocolate, etc.). It is difficult to say whether diet has any effect on vitiligo or not. However, some people may benefit from avoiding certain food items like those mentioned above based on their own experience.
11) Supplements such as vitamins C and B12, zinc, etc.: These supplements are widely used for treating vitiligo, but there is no evidence to show that they work well for everyone with the condition.
Vitiligo treatment options include camouflaging yourself against the sun’s harmful UV rays by wearing sunscreen when you go outside, skin bleaching creams and gels, skin grafting (skin transplantation).
Vitiligo affects the pigment cells of your skin, causing pale white patches to appear on your body. Your doctor can treat this condition by moving healthy pigment cells from one area of your body to another with less or no pigmentation.
One method of treatment is called autologous skin grafting, which involves taking a small piece of normal skin from an area with hair (like scalp), removing the affected pigment cells from this strip of leather along with some healthy ones to get rid of white patches on your body. Later this strip of skin is grafted back onto another area having a vitiligo patch. This procedure has specific risks, such as swelling, scarring, or infection, but it does not require taking medicines.
Another method of treating vitiligo is melanocyte transplantation, which involves removing pigment cells (melanocytes) from normal skin, growing them in a laboratory, and later transplanting them back into the affected area to restore color. This procedure is mainly done for the eyes.
The third method is chemical treatments, where low concentrated bleach baths are used to treat extensive patches on arms and legs only. This treatment may cause swelling, blistering, and pain if used on large body areas or sensitive areas like genitals and face. It should be used carefully under close supervision only.
Here are some of the tips for vitiligo patients which they should keep in mind while taking treatment:
1) Always consult your dermatologist or physician before starting any treatment at home. Also, remember that you have to give all information about your past and present medical history so that he can decide what kind of therapy will suit you best.
2) Some people may not tolerate certain medications used in treating vitiligo because of their side effects like dryness, redness, etc., especially on the skin. So they need to inform their doctor about such allergies before starting any therapy.
3) Vitiligo affects mainly melanin-producing cells of the skin called melanocytes. So it is best to use skincare products that nourish and protect these cells.
4) Vitiligo affects mainly melanin-producing cells of the skin called melanocytes. So it is best to use skincare products that nourish and protect these cells.
5) People with vitiligo should try to lead an everyday life as much as possible by avoiding sun exposure, using sunscreen before going out in the sun, etc. They can even enjoy outdoor activities like swimming, jogging, or playing any other sport.
6) Always consult your dermatologist regarding your diet chart and your medication itself. There are some foods that you must avoid while taking treatment for vitiligo.
7) Treatment for vitiligo generally works very well in younger age groups and those with localized forms or smaller patches of this skin problem. The earlier you start treatment for your condition, the better it will be to restore color to your skin. But even if you have started later in life, don’t worry because it’s never too late for any treatment.
8) Some people with vitiligo may develop a mental health issue like depression due to a lack of pigment on their skin. In this case, they should always consult a therapist to overcome their depression.
9) Vitiligo is not contagious or infectious like other skin diseases. It does not spread from one person to another by contact with the lesions on the body but, it can spread from one part of the body to another due to the increase in the number of patches.
10) Makeup and self-tanning lotions are generally safe for use over areas affected with vitiligo as long as you don’t have an allergy to any ingredients used on your skin.
Can Homeopathy treatment for vitiligo help to restore skin color?
We often come across questions like “can homeopathy cure vitiligo?” The answer is YES! Homeopathy is a safe, gentle, and effective method that helps to treat vitiligo. It is considered a complete treatment in all aspects of this skin disease. Unlike other medical treatments, homeopathy does not just aim to treat visible symptoms like redness, scaling, etc. It aims at stimulating immunity so that it can fight on its own against the underlying cause of vitiligo and restore color to your skin again naturally.
It would help if you talked to your health care provider first before trying any vitiligo treatment. You can book an appointment through OHO Homeopathy now!