Vitiligo is caused by insufficient production of melanin dye in the skin. The only symptom is the change of the skin color. The absence of physical suffering doesn’t exclude psychological discomfort and problems with social life. Vitiligo must be and can be treated.
Surgical methods of treatment are extreme measures. They don’t guarantee effective results, and can cause further development of the disease due to skin trauma. That’s why it makes more sense to try other methods first, such as medicines or UV-light therapy. Let’s try to find out more about it.
Treatment should be prescribed and supervised only by the doctor! Discuss with a specialist the newest methods that you want to try.
Usually they are ointments and creams with corticosteroids. These remedies have good potential if applied during the early stage of the disease. They are prescribed for long courses lasting up to several months.
These drugs might have side effects if used for a long time, such as thinning of the skin, striae. Children and patients with extensive lesions are prescribed reduced dosages.
Ointments with cyclosporine and pimecrolimus can work well for people with small areas of damage, especially the ones on the face and neck.
These drugs have fewer side effects than the previous group. They are well combined with light therapy. There is a possible connection between these ointments and the development of skin cancer or lymphomas.
This type of drug is used in combination with physiotherapy procedures for irradiation with light. A popular drug of this group is Psoralen. It strengthens the sensitivity of the skin to light and stimulates the production of melanin. It is ineffective if there are no melanocytes on the affected area left.
Contraindications for this this group of drugs include a number of diseases, pregnancy and lactation, up to age five and over 60 years old, an abundance of pigment nevi (moles). If the patient has contraindications, light therapy can be performed without photosensitizers.
There are several types of phototherapy. The most effective and safest one for vitiligo is narrow-band (311-313 nm) UVB-light. UVB-therapy is safe for pregnant and nursing women, elderly, children, and patients with a number of internal diseases. It gives a positive results quite often, even if other methods were ineffective. In most cases, it provides a stable remission.
Today you can find convenient devices for home use, which is especially valuable considering the duration and frequency of the procedure (three times a week for three months is the usual recommended course).
Afamelanotide is being implanted under the skin, stimulating the growth of melanocytes. Another alternative for controlling melanocytes is Prostaglandin. It is applied topically on the skin in small areas of depigmentation.
Tofacitinib is a drug usually used for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, but it can provide some positive effect on vitiligo conditions as well.
Small studies have shown the effectiveness of ginkgo biloba, alpha lipoic and folic acids, vitamins C, and B12.
Depigmentation is not a cure, but a cosmetic surgery. This is the last measure if neither therapy nor surgery worked and the disease continues to progress. It is used for extensive skin lesions when there are fewer discolored areas than affected ones. Special products are applied to the healthy skin areas once or twice a day for nine or more months, gradually lightening them to the normal tone. Patients can experience various skin discomforts. Depigmentation is irreversible. In the future, the discolored skin will need to be constantly protected from sunlight.
In conclusion, we would like to remind you once again that vitiligo needs medical supervision. It will help you to prevent all possible and unwanted effects of self-treatment.