How to Treat Vitiligo in Children?
The first skin symptoms of vitiligo in a child may cause parents to panic. There are many new methods of therapy. However, not each one can be used in pediatrics. Let’s discuss the vitiligo treatment methods in children and whether UVB-lamps are safe for kids.
Characteristics of children’s vitiligo
Usually, the disease appears after exposure to certain factors:
- stress, trauma;
- hypovitaminosis or vitamin deficiency;
- endocrine disorders, especially type I diabetes mellitus;
- urinary system diseases;
- nervous system illness;
- autoimmune diseases, etc.
Vitiligo can affect children from the age of 3 to 20 years old. The onset of skin manifestations begins with the appearance of a 0.2 to 0.6 cm speck that can be unrelated to any previous illness or can be caused by one of the factors listed above. The color of the spot may vary from white to milky, with clear boundaries and without additional inclusions. the spot can expand intensively if there are several of them, and they can merge during the growing.
Vitiligo is an acquired disease with a chronic course, and it’s not contagious. According to WHO, 2% of the child population suffers from this skin pathology.
The localization of the surface manifestation can be different:
- Upper and lower limbs.
- Torso (back, chest, abdomen).
The only places that cannot be affected are palms and soles of the feet – places that are resistible to ultraviolet influence. In children, the disease occurs in a segmental form, which means that spots develop only in one area. Spots can occur on the site of bruising, scratching, and various injuries. This symptom is called the Köbner phenomenon.
Vitiligo treatment in children
Vitiligo is a consequent disease, so the plan of therapy directly depends on the condition of the child at the present moment.
Self-treatment of vitiligo is not recommended because of the possible development of complications. Therefore, it is necessary to consult a specialist who will select an effective therapy to achieve long-term remission, based on the exams, tests, and results of diagnostic data.
The purpose of therapy is:
- suspension of the process, preventing the further increase and destruction of new areas;
- preventing inflammatory complications of the skin;
- restoring the pigmentation of lesions;
- improving the psycho-emotional state of the child.
The main methods of vitiligo treatment
The methods of treatment include general (systemic) and local (local).
General treatment includes:
- Use of corticosteroids.
- Medicines that improve liver function.
- Remedies affecting the functioning of the gastrointestinal tract.
- Medications that regulate the pancreas.
- Vitamins and microelements.
- Medicines to control psycho-vegetative reactions of the child.
Only a specialist can prescribe the medications and determine the dosage, taking into consideration age, health, and diseases of the patient.
Local treatment includes:
- Ointments containing corticosteroids.
- Medicines that improve pigmentation in the lesion.
- Photoprotective cream, neutralizing the harmful effect of sunlight.
- Phytopreparations for local application (decoctions, tinctures).
- Physiotherapy, phototherapy.
Local treatments with phototherapy are successfully used not only in adults, but also in children. However, to avoid the development of complications, you should follow the recommendations:
- PUVA therapy can be recommended only for children who are at least five years old and above. The lesion area should not be more than 30% of the entire body. To enhance the susceptibility to UV light, the patient will be prescribed a medicine 2 hours prior to the session.
- Using of the excimer laser is acceptable in children 5 years old, but the method is quite complicated and requires supervision in specialized institutions.
- UVB lamps can be used at home, which is very convenient for kids and parents. This type of therapy is useful in 97% of cases. UV exposure affects the upper layers of the skin, where melanocytes are located, which contributes to restoration of pigmentation. Studies indicate the safety of this treatment method for children.
For the best effectiveness of the treatment, many specialists recommend combining several methods that can lead to stable remission.
How can it be prevented?
Working to prevent a relapse is important. Preventative measures include:
- Proper nutrition.
- Prevention of consequent diseases aggravations.
- Sanitation of injured skin.
- Strengthening immunity.
- Exclusion of stress, neuroses, and other psychological factors.
- Improvement of the psycho-emotional state of the child.
- Limited stay in the sun in a hot season.
- Use of sunscreen and neutralizing creams.