Vitiligo is a skin condition characterised by white patches on the skin. The patches can occur on any part of the body, even in the scalp and inner mouth. Our skin gets its colour from a naturally occurring pigment – melanin which is produced by melanocytes. Vitiligo or white patches occur when these melanocytes start dying due to unknown reasons. People of any skin type can get affected by this condition, but the patches are more noticeable on dark-skinned people. The first signs of Vitiligo usually appear before the 30s, but it can affect at any age.
Vitiligo is not a life-threatening condition, but it is stressful due to social stigma associated with it. Patients often struggle with low self esteem & confidence due to their uneven skin tone but treatment can help them gain their confidence back. Vitiligo treatment helps restore the skin colour of the affected area and unify the overall skin tone.
Signs & symptoms of Vitiligo include:
- Loss of skin colour in patches. These patches usually first appear on the sun-exposed areas such as face, hands, shoulders & lips.
- Loss of skin color in the lining tissues of inner mouth and nose.
- Premature whitening or greying of the hair, eyelashes, eyebrows, beard and body hairs.
However, the signs of VVitiligo also depend on the type of Vitiligo one has such as:
- Universal Vitiligo: Wwhen the loss of pigments occurs on nearly everywhere on the body.
- Generalized Vitiligo: When patches occur in many parts of your body. It is the most common type of Vitiligo.
- Segmental Vitiligo: When patches occur on only one side or part of the body. This type of Vitiligo usually occurs in children which progress for 1-2 years and then stops.
- Localized (focal) Vitiligo: When patches occur on one or only a few areas of the body.
- Acrofacial Vitiligo: When the patches appear only on face and hands, eyes, nose, ears and around body openings.
Predicting the progress of Vitiligo is difficult as sometimes the condition spreads widely or sometimes it stops spreading even without any treatment.
Cosmetic camouflage: This is performed with colouring creams to cover-up the white patches. Usually, a semi-liquid foundation-like application is applied to the skin to hide the depigmented white circles. When correctly applied as per doctor’s instructions, camouflage creams can stay up to 96 hours on the skin. Although the duration may decrease in the case of the face and other exposed areas.
Microskin is a new revolutionary camouflage technique that stays on skin for several days. It’s smudge-proof and waterproof which also allow the skin to breathe. It comes in over 100 shades and gives a natural skin tone,
Phototherapy: Light therapy or phototherapy given with narrowband ultraviolet A (UVA) or ultraviolet B (UVB) has shown to stop the growth of Vitiligo. This treatment is often given with corticosteroids or calcineurin inhibitors for effective results. The treatment is given two to three times a week for several months. Effective changes can be seen within 2-3 months of the therapy.
Excimer (Targeted Phototherapy): It is one of the most effective Vitiligo treatments where ultraviolet radiations are directly focused on the white spots. As the name suggests, this treatment only targets the white spots leaving the rest of the skin unexposed. Usually, this treatment is often recommended for localized Vitiligo patients.
Depigmentation: This treatment is recommended for patients with more than 50% widespread Vitiligo. It is applied to the unaffected skin area to reduce melanin percentage and make a unified skin tone. This is achieved by using strong medicated topical lotion or creams that reduce melanin percentage on the skin. It is a permanent treatment and the entire procedure may take up to 12 to 14 months.
Melanocyte Cell Transfer: under this treatment, the top layer of white spots are removed and replaced with healthy melanocytes(pigment cells) taken from other parts of the body. Within a few months of the transplantation, the melanocytes start working to produce melanin which results in the disappearance of the white spots.
Skin Grafting: under this procedure, a small section of healthy pigmented skin is transferred to replace the depigmented skin areas. This treatment is recommended for Vitiligo patients with limited Vitiligo spots. Due to the complexity involved in this procedure, doctors only recommend it when all other treatment fails to restore the lost skin colour.
At Dr. Paul’s Skin Laser Centre, Vitiligo treatment is performed under the supervision of certified MD Dermatologists after an open discussion about the procedure, results, and possible effects of the treatment. Call today at 9803 029 029 to know more!