There are more than 200,000 cases of vitiligo in the United States per year. So it’s safe to say that this condition is quite common. Our team of dermatologists have delivered successful treatments to a number of patients over the years. So if you’re considering treatment for vitiligo, here’s how we can help.
Diagnosing vitiligo isn’t as simple as looking at the skin, like some may believe. In order to properly diagnose vitiligo, we would need to complete a verbal consultation to determine your family history. We’ll then follow up with a clinical examination of the skin. In most cases, this exam utilizes a blue light that will verify the presence of truly depigmented skin. This will tell our dermatologists if it truly is vitiligo causing the color loss and not any other condition. If more information is needed, we may choose to complete a skin biopsy.
Currently, there is no vitiligo cure , however it is possible to treat vitiligo skin in order to correct pigmentation loss. Once we determine that you do indeed have vitiligo, it’s time to consider treatment options. The type of treatment suitable for you will depend on your skin type, the severity of the condition, medical history, and general lifestyle. Here are several types of common treatment options we deliver:
Topical corticosteroids are often used in vitiligo treatment as an anti-inflammatory medication. When used as directed, topical corticosteroids can slow down the spread of vitiligo and possibly promote the growth of healthy pigment cells known as melanocytes. For more widespread cases, stronger creams may be prescribed. However, we tread carefully when offering the topical treatments as they may cause serious side effects.
Phototherapy has been quite effective in treating vitiligo. With this procedure, we use ultraviolet light to send electromagnetic radiation into the skin to stimulate the cells and promote the growth of melanocytes. We typically recommend undergoing treatment several times a month. Phototherapy also has limited side effects. Some patients may experience a light stinging sensation, irritation, or a reaction similar to sunburn.
During laser treatment, a highly concentrated laser beam is placed over the skin. This laser light will interact with the pigmentation cells, similar to phototherapy. With multiple treatments, the lightened skin cells will die off, causing the skin tone to even out.
The care after the treatment is just as important as the treatment itself. Any type of vitiligo treatment will leave the skin sensitive to sunlight. To minimize the risk of negative side effects, we suggest that all patients avoid direct sunlight and stay indoors if possible. If you do have to go out, wearing sunblock with SPF 30 is a must. Over the duration of your treatment, we will keep a close eye on the progression of the treatment. If there is no change, or you have a severe reaction, we will consider changing tactics and trying a different approach.