Treatment for vitiligo
Treatment for vitiligo may help make the skin look more even. The choice of vitiligo treatment depends on:
- The number of white patches
- How widespread the patches are
- The treatment the person prefers to use.
Some treatments are not right for everyone. Many treatments for vitiligo can have unwanted side effects. Treatments can take a long time, and sometimes they don’t work.
Current treatment options for vitiligo include medical, surgical, and other treatments. Most treatments are aimed at restoring color to the white patches of skin.
The most common medical treatments for vitiligo are:
- Topical medicines (such as creams) that you put on the skin
- Medicines that you take by mouth
- A treatment that uses medicine plus ultraviolet A (UVA) light (PUVA)
- Removing the color from other areas so they match the white patches.
Surgical treatment for vitiligo assumes the following techniques:
- Skin grafts from a person’s own tissues. The doctor takes skin from one area of a patient’s body and attaches it to another area. This is sometimes used for people with small patches of vitiligo.
- Punch grafts (small pieces of pigmented skin are relocated to the places covered by the white skin that contains no melanin)
- Split thickness skin grafts (larger fragments of pigmented skin are resettled in place of white spots where the unpigmented skin has been removed)
- Blister grafts (blister roofs from healthy and pigmented skin are relocated to white spots)
- Cellular grafts (melanocytes and other skin cells from healthy and pigmented skin are resettled to white leukoderma spots after the superficial layer of skin has been detached by either dermabrasion or laser therapy)
- Tattooing small areas of skin.
Other methods of vitiligo treatment are:
Phototherapy with UVA light
UVA treatment is usually conducted in a health care setting. First, the patient takes a drug that increases the skin’s sensitivity to UV light. Then, in a series of treatments, the affected skin is exposed to high doses of UVA light. Progress will be evident after 6 to 12 months of twice-weekly sessions.
In cases of mild vitiligo, the patient can camouflage some of the white patches with colored, cosmetic creams and makeup. They should select tones that best match their skin features. If creams and makeup are correctly applied, they can last 12 to 18 hours on the face and up to 96 hours for the rest of the body. Most topical applications are waterproof.
When the affected area is widespread, covering 50 percent of the body or more, depigmentation can be an option. This reduces the skin color in unaffected parts to match the whiter areas. Depigmentation is achieved by applying strong topical lotions or ointments, such as Monobenzone, Mequinol, or Hydroquinone. The treatment is permanent, but it can make the skin more fragile. Long exposure to the sun must be avoided. Depigmentation can take 12 to 14 months, depending on factors such as the depth of the original skin tone.
Corticosteroid ointments are creams containing steroids. Some studies have concluded that applying topical corticosteroids to the white patches can stop the spread. Others have reported total restoration of the original skin color. Corticosteroids should never be used on the face. If there is some improvement after a month, the treatment should be paused for a couple of weeks before starting it again. If there is no improvement after a month, or if side effects occur, treatment should stop.
Calcipotriene is a form of vitamin D used as a topical ointment. It may be used with corticosteroids or light treatment. Side effects include rashes, dry skin, and itching. Another treatment for vitiligo that has gain popularity is a natural treatment.
What is vitiligo?
Vitiligo (vit-il-EYE-go) also known as leukoderma is a skin disorder that causes the skin to lose its color. Smooth white areas (called macules if less than 5mm or patches if 5mm or larger) appear on a person’s skin. If you have vitiligo in a place that has hair, the hair on your body may also turn white.
Vitiligo is a skin disorder in which smooth white areas (called macules or patches) appear on a person’s skin. It generally starts on the hands, forearms, feet, and face. Globally, about 1% or so of the population has vitiligo.
Vitiligo aka Leukoderma is a skin disease that manifests by white spots on different parts of a patient’s skin.
The condition occurs when melanocytes (the skin cells that produce melanin, the chemical that gives skin its color, or pigmentation) are destroyed by the body’s immune system.
What we know about Vitiligo
Humans are a wonder of nature – we have a lot of diversity in language, ethnicity, beliefs, the color of our eyes, hair, and skin, and many other intriguing things. While this natural diversity makes the human race unique and beautiful, many individuals may have issues with their skin color, however. This is not because of racism or discrimination but because their skin is diverse in color. Vitiligo which is also called Leukoderma is a quite common skin disorder. As the name Leukoderma suggests, it causes white patches to form on the skin (leuko = white; and derma = skin). Vitiligo happens due to a number of factors. The most widely known factor being the abnormal behavior of the immune system. In this case, the immune system goes berserk and starts destroying melanocytes which are cells that contain the pigment melanin which is responsible for the color of the skin. Other factors are a genetic predisposition, conditions where the melanocytes don’t function properly, and conditions where the nerves do not function properly. Leukoderma while apparently not a serious health problem is a serious problem nonetheless. This is because it can cause stigma and can reduce self-confidence. Hence, it is more of a social problem that can degenerate into mental issues like depression and anxiety if not handled properly. Treatment of Vitiligo can help boost self-confidence. Orthodox treatments may work for some people but the scientific consensus is that they are not as effective as they should be in the context of Vitiligo. It may be worth the while to try alternative treatments. We are going to discuss some homeopathic treatments available and case studies as seen in a journal.
Who is likely to get vitiligo?
Up to 2% of the population and an estimated 2 to 5 million Americans have the condition. It doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman.
In most cases, it develops early in life, between ages 10 and 30. It will almost always show up before age 40.
Vitiligo may run in families. You’re more likely to get it when someone else in your family has it, too, or when people in your family get gray hair prematurely.
Autoimmune diseases, such as autoimmune thyroid disease (Hashimoto’s thyroiditis) or type 1 diabetes, can also raise your odds.
Types of vitiligo
Vitiligo can be divided into two main types – generalized vitiligo and segmental vitiligo. In both types of vitiligo, the cells that create skin pigmentation are destroyed, resulting in lighter skin. However, generalized and segmental vitiligo manifests itself differently in the body.
• Generalized, which is the most common type when spots appear in different places on the body.
• Segmental that is limited to one side of the body or an area such as the hands or face.
• Mucosa type that distresses the mucous membranes of the gums, vagina, and head of the penis.
• Focal length, which is the rare type in which the spots are in a small area and do not spread in a specific pattern for one to two years.
• Trichoma type represented by a colorless center, that is whiter than the rest of the area of lighter pigmentation in the middle of the area of ordinarily pigmented skin.
• The universal type of vitiligo, is another infrequent form of leukoderma that manifests ty 80% or more of the skin on the body is melanin-free.
There are two major types of vitiligo:
This is the most common type of vitiligo, with pale skin patches usually appearing on both sides of the body. The first signs may show up on hands, fingertips, wrists, around the eyes or mouth, or on the feet. Non segmental vitiligo is also called bilateral or generalized vitiligo or vitiligo vulgaris, according to an article published in September 2016 in F1000 Research.
Non segmental vitiligo is divided into subtypes based on the way the condition presents itself. These include acrofacial vitiligo, which appears on the face, hands, and feet; mucosal vitiligo, which affects the mucus membranes of the mouth, nose, and genitals; localized or focal vitiligo, which occurs on just a few areas of the body; and universal vitiligo, which may involve 80 to 90 percent of an affected person’s skin.
For this type, white patches often appear on just one side of the body, such as one arm or one leg instead of both. Loss of hair color is common. Segmented vitiligo can begin early in life. It may spread rapidly for six months to two years, then stop progressing. In rare cases, this form of vitiligo may become active again years later. About 5 to 16 percent of vitiligo cases are segmental vitiligo.
You may also have mixed vitiligo, a combination of nonsegmental and segmental vitiligo.
Importantly, vitiligo can cause significant psychological distress. Many people with vitiligo struggle with self-esteem, confidence, and social anxiety, especially if the vitiligo affects areas of the skin that are tough to hide under clothes or minimize with cosmetics, notes the NHS.
Vitiligo can have a significant effect on patients. Patients can be very self-conscious and even experience depression.
Symptoms of vitiligo
White patches on the skin are the main symptoms of vitiligo. These patches are more common in areas where the skin is exposed to the sun. The patches may be on the hands, feet, arms, face, and lips.
Common symptoms of vitiligo are;
- Patches of skin lose color. This can include the eyes and/or the mucous membranes in your mouth or nose.
- Patches of hair on your head or face turn prematurely gray or white.
Vitiligo commonly affects:
- Body folds (like armpits)
- Places that have been injured in the past
- Areas exposed to the sun
- Around moles
- Around body openings
- Mucous membranes (tissues that line your nose and mouth)
- It can also affect eyelids and hair.
- It’s rare for the pigment to return once the white patches have developed.
What causes vitiligo
Although the causes of vitiligo aren’t completely understood, there are a number of different theories about the causes of vitiligo:
The affected person’s immune system may develop antibodies that destroy melanocytes.
Certain factors that may increase the chance of getting vitiligo can be inherited. About 30% of vitiligo cases run in families.
A substance that is toxic to melanocytes may be released at nerve endings in the skin.
A defect in the melanocytes causes them to destroy themselves.
Vitiligo may also be triggered by certain events, such as physical or emotional stress. Because none of the explanations seem to completely account for the condition, it’s possible that a combination of these factors is responsible for vitiligo.
Is vitiligo painful?
Vitiligo is not painful. However, you can get painful sunburns on the lighter patches of skin. It is important to protect yourself against the sun with measures like using sunscreen, staying out of the sun during the hours that it is strongest, and wearing protective clothing. Some people with vitiligo have reported having itchy skin sometimes, including before the depigmentation starts.
Problems associated with vitiligo?
Although vitiligo is mainly a cosmetic condition, people with vitiligo may experience a variety of problems:
Because they lack melanocytes, macules are more sensitive to sunlight than the rest of the skin, so they will burn rather than tan.
People with vitiligo may have some abnormalities in their retinas (the inner layer of the eye that contains light-sensitive cells) and some variation of color in their irises (the colored part of the eye). In some cases, there is some inflammation of the retina or iris, but vision is usually not affected.
People with vitiligo may be more likely to get other autoimmune diseases (in which the body’s immune system causes it to attack itself), such as hypothyroidism, diabetes, pernicious anemia, Addison’s disease, and alopecia areata. Also, people with autoimmune diseases are more at risk of developing vitiligo.
People with vitiligo may feel embarrassed or anxious about their skin. Sometimes people are rude – they may stare or say unkind things. This could cause a person with vitiligo to develop low self-esteem. This in turn could create anxiety or depression issues and make someone want to isolate. If this happens, you should talk to your healthcare provider or your family and friends to help you find a solution.
Natural treatment for vitiligo
Natural treatment for vitiligo is another treatment for vitiligo that has been proven to be effective without causing any side effects.
Listed below are different approaches to natural vitiligo treatment
Home remedies for vitiligo – an effective natural treatment for vitiligo.
Home remedies for vitiligo are another form of natural treatment for vitiligo that can be achieved at home and is cost-effective.
Listed below are the most common home remedies for vitiligo
Reduction of stress
Reducing stress is one of the home remedies for vitiligo. Too much stress can be harmful to the body with any condition. Stress may not cause vitiligo, but excess stress can lead to the growth of patches caused by vitiligo. Apart from vitiligo, stress may harm the mind and body and hamper the day-to-day functioning of a person. Take less stress in order to prevent vitiligo from worsening.
Since vitiligo is observed in areas of skin that are regularly exposed to the sun, it can be said that vitiligo is affected by harmful UV rays of the sun. Therefore, as a preventive measure, apply sunscreen to the parts of the body exposed to the sun. Wear long dresses to cover all exposed parts of your body to prevent any harm caused by UV rays that inhibit the growth of vitiligo.
Drink water from a copper cup
Staying hydrated is another home remedy for vitiligo that can help your body stay fit and away from diseases. A way to red rid of vitiligo is to drink water from a copper vessel. Drinking water stored in a copper vessel will help you increase melanin in your body and reduce the whiteness of patches caused by vitiligo.
Diet – an important component of any treatment for vitiligo
Diet for vitiligo is another home remedy for vitiligo that can help reduce the symptoms of vitiligo. While there’s no officially prescribed “diet for vitiligo,” the best nutritional steps that you can take include eating a healthy diet full of good nutrients and drinking lots of water. And, as with any autoimmune disorder, you may benefit from immune system-boosting foods that contain phytochemicals, beta-carotene, and antioxidants. Below are the rules that need to be applied when you create a diet for vitiligo that people with vitiligo have cited as helpful for their condition:
- Leafy greens, such as kale or romaine lettuce
- Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans
- Root vegetables, especially beets, carrots, and radishes
- Figs and dates
Acupuncture for vitiligo – an ancient Chinese natural treatment for vitiligo
Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine herbs especially heal skin ailments. TCM addresses both the root cause and the division (symptoms) of a condition. The diagnosis and treatment are tailored to each individual’s symptoms. Based on the condition, treatment may involve acupuncture, Chinese herbs, or both. Often, one treatment cycle is once or twice weekly for 12 weeks. Some conditions will clear quickly, but others may take longer.
Acupuncture for vitiligo includes internal and external herbal therapy. Internal treatment may involve the boiling of a 10-12 herb mixture, and drinking it twice a day. The majority of the herbs are Blood and Qi circulators, while some are more modern developments that have been found to have an anti-vitiligo effect.
The external therapy consists of employing a psoralen-rich tincture into the stains, followed by brief exposure to natural sunlight. Psoralens are compounds found in certain plants, making the skin more sensitive to sunlight and sparkling the interrupted melanin production. Too much exposure can also lead to sunburn. Acupuncture for vitiligo should always be implemented under the supervision of an experienced practitioner and exactly as directed. Vitiligo patches start to fill in with the natural skin pigment after several treatments. It may take many months or years for the skin to be normal after therapy ceases.
Homeopathic treatment of Vitiligo – #1 natural treatment for vitiligo
Treatment of vitiligo aims to achieve two things. The first is to stop the spread of skin discoloration and the second is the get an even tone of the skin (i.e. reverse or at least mask the discoloration). Let’s look at some treatments of vitiligo in homeopathy with some case studies
Homeopathic remedies commonly used for the treatment of vitiligo
CALCAREA CARBONICA: this is one of the top medicines used for Vitiligo in homeopathic therapy. It is used to treat the milky white patches on the skin caused by Leukoderma. It is also useful in people who get easily fatigued when they do physical activities, and people prone to constipation. There is a case study of an 80-year-old woman who has had Vitiligo with white patches on her face for about 18 months. On using CALCAREA CARBONICA and NATRUM MURIATICUM (because she also had thyroid hormones disorder), she got better on two years’ follow-up. Her thyroid hormones were balanced and her face was gradually becoming normal.
TUBERCULINUM 200: This is a first-line homeopathic treatment in Vitiligo. You can start with this treatment. A 30-year-old woman who had Vitiligo all over her body for about 10 years. She also had a brother and paternal aunt with Leukoderma and had tuberculosis previously. She also had rheumatoid arthritis and hypothyroidism. She was given TUBERCULINUM 200, PHOSPHORUS, STRAMONIUM, LYSSINUM, and CARBO VEGETABILIS. On 12 years follow up her Vitiligo was slowly improving, her thyroid hormone levels and rheumatism were also improved to the extent that she was able to resume work normally. A 24-year-old woman battling Leukoderma for 20 years and also menstrual pain used TUBERCULINUM, PHOSPHORUS, LAC CARNNINUM, and IGNATIA AMARA. On 3 years follow up she had less painful menses and had fully recovered from her Vitiligo.
SULPHUR 200: sulfur is used for a wide variety of skin diseases. It is so effective that its effectiveness is not only recognized by homeopathic medicine, but also by orthodox medicine. It is in common ointments like sulfur ointments used for scabies, ringworm, and acne. It is also useful if Vitiligo comes with burning sensations all over the skin. SULPHUR was used with STRAMONIUM and NATRIUM MURIATICUM for an 8-year-old with white patches on her left leg. The discoloration was gradually disappearing after two years of treatment.
NITRIC ACID: nitric acid is very useful for discolorations on the skin which is sometimes accompanied by painful ulcers on the skin. It was used alone by a 50-year-old woman battling Vitiligo for 25 years. She had white discoloration on the face and ears. On follow-up from one year, she was slowly recovering from Vitiligo though she was still under treatment. A mixture of PHOSPHORUS and NITRIC ACID was used on a 28-year-old woman with discoloration on the face and back. She also had anemia. The anemia and the Vitiligo symptoms improved when she was accessed seven years after treatment.
Here are some other medications used: SILICEA 30, PSORALEA CORYL. 3X, SEPIA 30, ARSENICUM ALB 30, HYDROCOTYLE 3X, BELLADONNA, PHOSPHORUS, STRAMONIUM, NUX MOSCHATA, and PSORINUM
Homeopathic Treatment for Leukoderma in Philadelphia
The leader of the practitioners’ team, Dr. Victor Tsan is an internationally recognized homeopathic practitioner.