Vitiligo is an acquired skin pigmentation disorder in which melanocytes – the cells which are responsible for skin pigmentation – die out or are destroyed progressively. The loss of skin pigmentation can lead to the formation of irregular white patches. The resulting white patches feel like normal skin only.
Vitiligo is a common skin disorder. In the United States one out of every one hundred individuals suffer from this skin disorder. Nearly two percent of the world population suffers from vitiligo. Medical research has shown that people who are older than twenty are generally affected by this skin condition, although there have been instances wherein children as young as two have been diagnosed with vitiligo.
An Insight into Vitiligo
People of all races can contract this particular skin disorder. When melanin producing cells called melanocytes die out gradually, it can cause white spots or patches to appear on the skin. Even the eyes, the nose and the mouth can be affected by this relatively common skin disorder. Vitiligo skin disorder can cause premature graying of hair as well.
Individuals who spend inordinately long periods of time under direct sunlight are at a higher risk for vitiligo. However, the exact causative factors responsible for this skin disorder remain unknown / unidentified as yet.
Effective Treatment Measures for Vitiligo
There are numerous treatment options to counter the negative effects of vitiligo. Light Therapy, surgery and medical therapy are some popular treatment options for this skin disorder. Depending on the extent of skin de-pigmentation, an individual may have to go in for one or a combination of treatment methods to combat vitiligo. Treatments specifically designed for this skin disorder will last anywhere between 6 months to 18 months – depending on the extent of de-pigmentation patches.
Through this article we will make an in depth analysis of the different treatment choices for vitiligo.
Ultra violet A and / or ultra violet B light is used to counter the negative effects of vitiligo. Light therapy for treating vitiligo has a relatively high success rate. The light therapy treatments have to be carried out under the supervision of a certified dermatologist.
Vitiligo patients who have de-pigmentation patches, which cover less than twenty percent of their bodies, are advised photo-chemotherapy or PUVA. This treatment will last for several months. PUVA treatment will have to be performed at least once or twice a week depending on the extent of de-pigmentation.
A certified doctor or dermatologist will first apply a thin, even coating of topical psoralen on the de-pigmented areas of the skin. After half an hour, the patient’s skin will be exposed to powerful UVA light. The UVA light will introduce a pale pinkish color to the de-pigmented patches of skin. With repeated treatment the natural skin color will be restored.
Narrow Bed Ultra Violet B Therapy
Here ultra violet B light is used as an alternative to powerful PUVA light to treat vitiligo. Narrow bed UVB light therapy is similar to PUVA treatment except for the fact that topical psoralen are not applied on the de-pigmented portions of the skin before it is exposed to UVB light. Like PUVA treatment, the narrow bed UVB therapy lasts for several months. Vitiligo patients will have to undergo UVB light therapy at least thrice a week for optimal results.
People who have extremely small vitiligo patches are counseled by dermatologists to go in for this treatment technique. The excimer laser delivers UVB light of a specific wavelength. The excimer laser in conjunction with powerful oral medication can benefit people who have small de-pigmentation patches on their skin.
Vitiligo medical therapies will comprise of oral medicines and powerful topical skin creams. Medical therapies are ideal if treatment is started in the initial stages of vitiligo.
Topical corticosteroid creams are prescribed to restore the skin color. This therapy is extremely effective if the patient commences treatment in the very initial stages of being diagnosed with vitiligo. It may take at least three months before any palpable changes can be observed on the de-pigmented patches of skin. Even young children who have vitiligo can opt for topical corticosteroid therapy.
Topical Immunomodulators are basically skin creams which contain powerful ingredients like pimecrolimus or tacrolimus. People who have lost skin pigmentation from their face and neck are generally advised to apply topical immunomodulators.
This topical skin cream is applied in conjunction with the narrow bed UVB therapy.
If vitiligo patches cover more than twenty percent of an individual’s body, then that person is advised to go in for this particular treatment. A person will consume the oral psoralen medicine and wait for atleast two hours before undergoing UVA light treatment. People who are unable to spend large amounts of money on UVA light treatment can consume the oral psoralen medicine before exposing their skin to direct sunlight.
Surgical therapies are only recommended if all other treatment options, which are specifically designed for vitiligo, fail. Surgical therapies can range from autologus skin grafts to tattooing and blister grafting. Listed below are some effective surgical therapies for vitiligo.
This surgical option is recommended for individuals who have extremely small vitiligo patches. In this surgical procedure, a doctor will replace the de-pigmented patches of skin with sections of healthy skin. This is quite an effective treatment option and people who want to enjoy immediate results generally go in for autologus skin grafts.
This is an extremely painful treatment technique. In this particular method skin blisters are created using suction method. The top of the blisters from healthy portions of skin are removed and replaced on the apex of blisters which are created on de-pigmented areas of skin. Not many people go in for this treatment technique due to its relatively low success rate. Vitiligo patients who have undergone this surgical procedure may experience severe scarring as well.
People generally don’t associate tattooing with vitiligo. But this is exactly what this revolutionary treatment method does. Tattoo colors which are akin to a person’s natural skin color are grafted on areas on de-pigmented skin. This treatment method is optimal for covering small portions of de-pigmented skin.
These are some of the highly effective treatment options which are available to combat vitiligo skin disorder effectively.