Although vitiligo may not be harmful medically, it causes devastating emotional and psychological effects. In some places, people with this condition are subjected to massive discrimination. This makes it important to learn how to treat vitiligo.
So what is vitiligo and is there an effective vitiligo treatment? Vitiligo refers to a pigmentation disorder, where the cells that make pigment in the skin (Melanocytes) are destroyed. Consequently, white spots appear on the skin in diverse parts of the body. In addition, the same spots appear on the tissues, which line the inner parts of the mouth and nose (the mucous membranes) and the inner layer of the eyeball (the retina). In most cases, the hair that grows on areas affected by vitiligo becomes whitish. Perhaps you are wondering what causes the pigmentation disorder.
Although the main causes are still not known, there are several theories that researchers and doctors have. Firstly, there are a group of three genes that are inherited by people with vitiligo, which makes them prone to pigmentation. This makes the disease hereditary. Secondly, vitiligo is a disease where your immune system reacts against your own body organs or tissues (autoimmune disease). Finally yet importantly, cells that make pigments in the skin destroy themselves.
The symptoms of vitiligo include white patches on the skin, particularly those parts that are exposed to the sun such as the hands, face, feet, and lips. It is always important to see a specialist for a proper diagnosis. Once a positive diagnosis is done, vitiligo treatment can be commenced.
How to treat vitiligo
The ultimate goal of vitiligo treatment is to improve one’s appearance. There are various vitiligo treatment options available including medication, surgery and therapies that are used alongside medical and surgical vitiligo treatment.
Generally, the medical therapies for this condition may take up to 18 months depending on the spread of the white patches. Some of the most common medical therapies used include topical steroid therapy, psolaren photochemotherapy, depigmentation therapy, and surgical therapy. In Topical therapy, steroid cream is applied on the white patches to aid in re-pigmentation. The use of Corticosteroid cream is the simplest and the safest vitiligo treatment. When you are using this cream, the doctor will closely monitor you due to the side effects that the cream may have. In topical vitiligo treatment, psoralen cream may also be applied on the affected areas.
The other therapy used in vitiligo treatment is the Psoralen photochemotherapy, commonly known as psoralen and UV (ultraviolet) A therapy. This form of therapy is time-consuming and is arguably the most effective vitiligo treatment. The treatment involves oral ingestion of psoralen, which is a drug containing chemicals that react against ultraviolet light thus causing the darkening of the skin. The process is carefully followed by timed exposure to sunlight. When undergoing this therapy, you will be required to minimize exposure to sunlight at other times.
Another form of vitiligo treatments is the depigmentation therapy, which involves decoloring/ fading the rest of the body to match the areas affected by this condition. Depigmentation is favourable for people who have more than 50% effect of vitiligo on their bodies. For depigmentation, you will apply menobenzole drug to pigmented areas twice daily until the perfect match is attained. After applying this drug, you must avoid skin-to-skin contact with other people for at least two hours. However, the depigmentation therapy has two common side effects, inflammation of the skin and itchy or dry skin. If you opt for depigmentation, it is essential to know that it tends to be permanent and cannot be easily reversed. Moreover, this will make you hypersensitive to light.
Surgical therapy is yet another vitiligo treatment that must be only after sufficient medical therapy has been done. Surgical therapy techniques tend to be very expensive and time-consuming, and are not usually covered under your normal insurance cover. These kinds of therapies are appropriate vitiligo cure for patients who have had the condition for at least three years. Surgical therapies include autologous skin grafting, skin grafting using blisters, tattooing, autologous melanocytes transplants. If you opt for this surgical therapy, you need to choose your doctor cautiously.
In conclusion, vitiligo is a pigmentation disorder resulting from the destruction of the skin pigment. Although the cause is not clearly known, several theories take precedence. Vitiligo cure can be in form of several medical therapies including steroid therapy, psoralen and ultraviolet A therapy, depigmentation, and surgical therapy. Whichever, your choice therapy is, ensure that you consult with your doctor.