Having vitiligo can be a burden and hard on your self-esteem. If you have vitiligo, it isn’t life-threatening, but it’s still important to understand what it is and how to reduce its severity. .
Vitiligo is a skin disease that causes the skin to lose its pigmentation creating patches of lighter skin. These patches can appear all over the body, but especially around the mouth and nose and can spread over time.
Vitiligo occurs when the cells responsible for pigmentation rapidly die or simply stop working the way they are meant to. Given that vitiligo is the result of the death of pigmentation cells, other parts of the body beyond the skin may experience lightning. This can include the development of gray hair regardless of age (including eyelashes, eyebrows, and beard). Pigmentation can even be found inside the body like inside the mouth and nose.
Doctors aren’t quite sure as to cause the pigment cells to malfunction or die. However, it is understood that it is the result of an autoimmune condition (a disorder that causes the immune system to attack itself). Heredity may also play a part in vitiligo. Some children may develop vitiligo if their parents or grandparents have it. Certain events and circumstances can cause vitiligo like extreme stress, sunburn, chemical reaction, or skin injury.
For the last few decades, light has been successfully used to treat vitiligo. Using UVA (ultraviolet narrowband A), the pigmentation cells react with the light to slow the process of cell turnover. This type of treatment requires the use of a topical pre-treatment called Psoralen. Psoralen helps to make the skin more susceptible to the effects of light therapy. There are a few risks and possible side effects with the use of Psoralen, so check with your doctor to see if light therapy is right for you. When making a decision, keep in mind that this treatment can be time-consuming, as it requires multiple treatments a month for several months.
Medicated creams like corticosteroids can affect the skin cells in a way that slows or stops the rapid turnover of pigmentation cells and helps them to function properly. This treatment has been proven to help patients regain color after months of use. This treatment is good for individuals whose vitiligo isn’t widespread.
If the cause of vitiligo is an autoimmune disorder, steroids or other immunosuppressant medication can be used to suppress the immune system and keep it from attacking itself. If it works, the pigmentation cells will begin to work properly and will stop the spread of vitiligo.
Known as skin-grafting, patients can opt for a surgical procedure that requires unaffected skin and skin cells to be removed and placed within light patches. Not only will the added skin create a more uniform appearance by filling in the light areas, but the skin cells can go to work to create new, healthy pigmentation cells that will multiply, creating a more even skin tone.
These are just a few treatment options for vitiligo. To get a more personalized treatment plan in Cincinnati, Ohio, visit then our experts at The Dermatology Group are here to help you explore treatment options, give you advice, resources, and more. Give us a call today!