Vitiligo is a condition in which the skin loses melanin. While there is no complete cure for this condition, certain treatment methods can help slow or in some cases stop the process of melanin loss.
Before starting with any kind of treatment, remember that depending on the severity of the condition, you may need 6 – 18 months for any result to show.
Medical Procedures For Vitiligo
This method is particularly effective if the illness is detected early. These creams are generally prescribed in small quantities for children below 10 years and in higher doses for adults. Use of these creams generally aids in repigmentation (the skin returning its original color).
However, it could take almost three months for results to start showing. Though this is one of the more effective methods, skin thinning or lines appearing on the skin are some of its side effects.
Topical Psolaren Photochemotherapy (PUVA)
This method is largely used for people who have small patches affected by vitiligo, particularly children. The treatment involves use of UVA lights.
A thin layer of psoralen is applied on the affected area and 30 minutes later it is exposed to UVA lights. Over the weeks, the UVA dose is increased until the skin color returns to near-normal. Once the session gets over, washing off the area and applying a sunscreen is a must before you step out.
Oral Psolaren Photochemotherapy
This method is used for people who either do not respond to the topical PUVA therapy or those who have considerable vitiligo affecting over 20 percent of the body. A dose of psolaren is to be taken orally at least 2 hours before the UVA lights are applied to the affected area. Depending on the severity of the condition, the doctor might prescribe UVA application two to three times a week. As with the topical UVA treatment, exposure to the sun should be completely avoided for at least 48 hours to prevent skin cancer.
Depigmentation is an option for people who have vitiligo affecting over 50 percent of their body. A medication called monobenzone ether of hydroquinone is applied on the unaffected parts of the body.
This treatment works for lightening the color of the unaffected skin to match the parts that have already lost melanin. Those undergoing this treatment should avoid skin contact with any other person as this medicine could get transferred to them.
Surgical Procedures For Vitiligo
Autologous Skin Grafting
This method involves removing the skin from one part of the body and fixing it on the depigmented part. This form of grafting is recommended for those with small areas of vitiligo.
Skin Grafting With Blisters
In this procedure, blisters are created on the skin using heat, freezing cold or suction. Once the blisters are formed, the tops are cut off and grafted on the affected area.
Also called tattooing, this process is particularly effective if done around the lip area. It is done by the use of a special surgical equipment. The problem with this treatment is that getting a perfect match is very difficult. Also, over time, the tattoo is likely to fade, thus giving an inconsistent look.
The treatment options for vitiligo must be undertaken after a thorough consultation with a dermatologist. Since different patients respond to treatments differently, a correct diagnosis is very important. It is also important to remember that every treatment has its own side effects, which must be considered.
Photo Credit: http://www.scripps.org/articles/3249-vitiligo