Vitiligo is a skin disease that causes loss of skin color. The loss occurs in patches and may extend to hair, inside of the mouth as well as the eyes.
Biologically, Vitiligo occurs when the cells that produce melanin- the component that gives color to the hair, skin and eyes- die or malfunction.
Although not inclined to affect a specific skin type, the effects of Vitiligo is more noticeable in dark people, thus a treatment for vitiligo becomes more important.
Vitiligo is not fatal or contagious, but can be stressful or cause one to look down upon himself or herself. Treatment of vitiligo does not cure it, but at least improves the appearance of the skin. The main ways of administering vitiligo treatment is through medication and by surgery.
Although no drug has been found to completely stop Vitiligo, some drugs administered with light therapy can better the skin’s appearance. Outlined below are some of these drugs.
- Creams – One can use creams which control inflammation. If used in the early stages of the disease, a topical corticosteroid may help with repigmentation. This cream may cause skin thinning or lines and should therefore be used in milder forms.
- Vitamin D – Topical calcipotriene, a type of Vitamin D can be used in conjunction with the cream mentioned above, or UV light. It may however cause dry skin, itching and rashes.
- Drugs – which influence the immune system. For people who have small areas of color loss, ointments that contain calcineurin inhibitors may be administered. The patient is however at risk of contracting cancer.
- Combined medication and light therapy – This entails the use of psoralen, a drug, and photochemotherapy. The drug makes the skin more sensitive to light. This vitiligo treatment is more effective if repeated three times a week for six to twelve months. There is however possibility of sunburns, blisters and itchiness. The skin may also be too dark or contract cancer.
- Light therapy – This is administered by a narrow band ultraviolet B light. It is more effective on the face, trunk and limbs.
- Laser therapy – Treating vitiligo with UVB may be used in combination with some drug as in photochemotherapy. The side effects are redness and blisters.
- Depigmentation – Should you have a widespread Vitiligo, and other vitiligo treatments having failed, your doctor may recommend the removal of the remaining color. A drug, monobenzone is applied to the unaffected parts so they lighten up and blend into the discolored parts. The application of the drug should be twice a day for 9 months or longer. You may hhowever be exposed to redness, swelling, itching and dry skin.
Surgery may be a considered option should the drugs and light therapy fail. Surgery aims at evening out the skin tone by restoring its color.
- Skin grafting – This involves removal of small sections of the pigmented skin and attaching themto the affected areas. This is often done for small patches of Vitiligo. You however face the risks of infection, scarring, spotty color and failure of the area to recolor.
- Blister grafting – Your doctor makes blisters on the normal skin and removes the tops of the blisters on the affected skin. You face the same risks as those from skin grafting.
- Tattooing – Your doctor may also consider micro pigmentation. The doctor implants pigment into the skin using some special surgical equipment. However, the tattoos may fade, or may fail to tan. Matching the skin color may also be difficult, and there may also be a trigger for another patch of Vitiligo.
There are also some homemade remedies that are effective as a vitiligo treatment:
- Turmeric and Mustard oil – A mixture of these two is great in boosting the immune system. You should mix 250ml of mustard oil with 5 teaspoons of turmeric powder, then applying the paste onto the affected areas twice a day.
- Red Clay and Ginger – Red clay is always found on riversides and hill slopes and is mixed with ginger juice in equal quantities. The mixture is then applied on the patches.
- Wild duckweed and Honey – When ground into paste and mixed with honey in equal measures, wild duckweed helps in repigmentation. You should take a teaspoonful of this mixture orally twice a day after meals..
- Radish seeds and Vinegar – Grind radish seeds into powder then mix 25 grams of this powder with 2 teaspoons of vinegar, the apply the paste on the affected skin.