Can Vitiligo Be Treated?

Vitiligo (Photo credit: Howtocurevitiligofast)
Vitiligo (Photo credit: Howtocurevitiligofast)
Vitiligo    (Photo credit:     Howtocurevitiligofast)
Vitiligo (Photo credit: Howtocurevitiligofast)

Studies say YES … but, the  treatment for  vitiligo is to improve appearance and no permanent cure as yet. There are a number of treatments for vitiligo and some relevant tips to prevent it from spreading.  In addition, certain testimonies were gathered.    But first, let us review what vitiligo is.

Vitiligo is a pigmentation disorder in the skin in which the cells that make pigment (called melanocytes)  are destroyed, resulting to white patches appearing on the skin in different parts of the body.    Take note that it is not deadly, neither is it physically harmful nor contagious. It just causes skin de-pigmentation in the shape of patches, and may tend to in increase in size or broaden as years go by.   While some people suspect it to be a pre-cancerous condition, records show it is not true; however, some studies are still being considered.

The worse things that usually happen is when those patients  are stigmatized for their condition and  experiences depression and similar mood disorders.  Now, THAT  is the more urgent concern for family members; hence, it is advised that vitiligo is understood and certain precautionary measures are taken to provide emotional support to family members with vitiligo.

Important Advisory for Persons with Vitiligo:

  • Wear sunscreens;  daily application of a moisturizer with a broad spectrum sunscreen of SPF 30 or greater to sun exposed areas is recommended.
  • Avoid  sun exposure between 10 am -3 pm or when the sun is most hot
  •  Use  hats and  cover-ups while outdoors ; there are certain tinted make-up/coverup products that contain broad spectrum sunscreens  such as Colore Science.
  • The traditional treatment is the application of corticosteroid cream.
  • Check your skin regularly; self-screening exams using the ABCDE criteria of malignant melanoma still apply to patients with vitiligo.
  • Most importantly, practice the art of zero stress, calmness and madness.  YES, you read it right.  If you are always stressed and nervous and mad , the vitiligo will EAT YOU UP.

Wikipedia gives us an idea on the number of treatment options for vitiligo  which  generally fall into four groups:

  1. UVB phototherapy

Exposing the skin to UVB light from UVB lamps is the most common treatment and which can be done at home with a domestic UVB lamp or in a clinic.

        2.  PUVA phototherapy

Ultraviolet light (UVA) treatments are normally carried out in a hospital clinic.   Psoralenand ultraviolet A light (PUVA)  treatment involves taking a drug which increases the skin’s sensitivity to ultraviolet light. The skin is then exposed to high doses of ultraviolet A light.

        3. Transplanting melanocytes

A scientific report was published in October 1992 regarding successful transplanting of melanocytesto vitiligo affected areas, effectively repigmenting the region.  The longevity of the repigmentation differed from person to person.

        4.  Skin camouflage

For those mild cases, vitiligo patches can be hidden with makeup or other cosmetic camouflage solutions; more so, if the affected person is pale-skinned.   The patches can be made less visible by avoiding both sunlight and the tanning of unaffected skin.

 Let us not forget that the main goal of treating vitiligo is to improve appearance and therapy may take a long time, from 6 to 18 months continuous treatment and depends on the number of white patches, location, size, and how widespread they are.  Each patient responds differently to therapy, and a particular treatment may not work for everyone.   To summarize, current treatment options include medication, surgery, and adjunctive therapies (used along with surgical or medical treatments).

A special testimony: 

Two people with whom I am in frequent communication with has Vitiligo.  One of them is my part-time boss, colleague and like a brother for more than six years.  We worked together for corporate, school and community events, which meant, we really were in constant company with our team.  And being a medical fanatic, I became engrossed in the progress (or regress?) of his vitiligo .

Yes, it”s apparent now that it runs in their genes,  inherited from their mother ( who has become completely and evenly FAIR since more than a decade ago).  There are six of them.The three female siblings, though, show no signs whatsoever of catching the vitiligo genes.  Only two of the males have it and the youngest son has no sign of it yet.

Through the years I saw how his patches spread so fast every time we had an event.  It seems that stress, nervousness and being mad really triggered my boss’ vitiligo to spread out fast until  he is almost white all over, around 95% now.  Perhaps a couple more events and from being a dark tan, he’ll be total caucasian in color.

Being chairman and in charge of everything, froms AVPs to scripts, crew and everything, he really gets stressed out, tired, nervous  and often times mad over inefficiency of some hired staff.  He knows that stress triggers his vitiligo to spread faster, but his line of work and activities demand a lot of challenge.

His two brothers, on the other hand, are stress-free and cool guys.  The younger one has very few and very light platches, almost unnoticeable.  The other brother has noticeable patches but still very few compared to my boss.  But looking at the bright side, after so many years of being Dalmatian, my boss is becoming a “new man.”    Emotions, according to studies, triggers vitiligo.  To reiterate a line above, “If you are always stressed and nervous and mad , the vitiligo will EAT YOU UP.”

Other online testimonies will also tell the same thing.  Added to that is the risk of  susceptibility  to sunburns, which is the reason why there  appears to be an increase in the risk of melanoma in patients with vitiligo. However, the evidence there has not been as strong for non-melanoma skin cancer ( basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas).

Another vitiligo tipster gives these advice:

  • Stop taking your vitiligo seriously, and also  those who will always stare and ask questions  because when you do it creates stress about “what other people think about it when they see it. ” Recognize the factors that are stressing you and work towards being stress-free because stress adds more spots to your body.  If you still find yourself having trouble with your emotions , consult a professional .
  • Search online for vitiligo diet for a list of  what and what not to eat, avoid artificial additives and food that is not natural.
  • Don’t hastily jump towards some expensive treatment  because you heard someone got better with it.  Remember that there are different types of vitiligo and one treatment doesn’t mean it’s for anyone with vitiligo.

Consult your dermatologist immediately  if you think you have a cause for alarm, like getting so burned from the sun! uh-oh …

Science is continuously searching for solutions to best combat this pigmentation disorder.  For the meantime, just avoid getting sunburnt and  learn to live with your Vitiligo like it doesn’t exist.   The less you take notice of it or worry over it, the less spotty you will become.  ^__^

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