Source: Vitiligo Treatments
Vitiligo, a chronic skin disorder that affects all races and both sexes, is a rare disease in which the pigment producing cells of body die or fail to function normally.
Vitiligo is characterized by the appearance of typical white patches on skin. Vitiligo has less than 1% prevalence worldwide. Since it is not a life threatening disease and a rare one at that, science has not dug with full force to find out the root cause of the disease per se.
So for the same reason, more than one theory has been presented suggesting the cause of the disease. Of all the theories, the most plausible one claims that Vitiligo occurs as a result of an autoimmune reaction incited against one’s own body.
In autoimmune reactions, body develops antibodies against body’s own parts and organs and attacks them considering them foreign particles i.e. pathogens.
In case of Vitiligo, it is considered the melanocytes i.e. the brown-black pigment (melanin) producing cells are destroyed or rendered dysfunctional as a result of autoimmune reactions incited against them; as a result of which a characteristic white patch of Vitiligo appears on skin. Other possible causes include; Genetic disorder, oxidative stress, neural or viral infections.
Types of Vitiligo
which is symptomatic with the appearance of generalized or localized patches. These patches may appear at any time of life. New patches appear from time to time.
which appears in early part of life and spreads rapidly. The lesions stop developing within a year or two after onset but if untreated, these patches may persist for life. This type responds quickly to topical treatment. Segmental Vitiligo is not associated with autoimmune disorder.
Vitiligo can occur at any age to anybody living in any part of the world belonging to either sex or any race. It is not a disease which is limited to a specific gender, age, race or part of the world. For most of the patients, these patches appear before 40 years of their life.
Most commonly affected areas the orifices such as eyes, nostrils, mouth, nipples, genitals and umbilicus. Body parts that are exposed to sun are prone to patches too i.e. hands, arms, legs, cheeks, face, feet etc.
What is the Cure for Vitiligo?
There is no cure for Vitiligo however a number of treatments are available to improve the skin condition i.e. the characteristic white patches of Vitiligo can be treated.
Choice of treatment depends upon the number of white patches and how widespread they are and what treatment the patient would prefer to use. Though a Vitiligo patient would be eager to get rid of his patches, it must be borne in mind that not every treatment will suit him or her and most of the treatments come with their side effects.
Also, before starting the treatment for Vitiligo, a patient must be aware that since Vitiligo is a chronic disorder itself, it will take a long time to reverse the skin condition. Sometimes treatments do not work.
Doctors sometimes advise to let Vitiligo untreated because it does not endanger a patient’s life and also because no definitive cure is there. So instead of experimenting with your skin and risking side effects, it is better to adjust yourself with your skin. Listed hereunder are the following available treatments;
- Topical applications of Steroid creams
- Oral intake of medicines
- Medicine and UVA light exposure
The process is normally carried out in a hospital. The process involves taking a drug that makes skin sensitive to the tanning effect of UV light. Treatment is required twice a week for 6 – 12 months. This treatment, however, comes with its side effects making sunburn type reactions or freckling on skin.
- Depigmentation of unaffected skin
The techniques renders skin an even colour. Depigmentation of entire skin is permanent and takes at least a year.
- Cosmetics to camouflage the white patches
- Sunbathing for at least 10 minutes daily