What is vitiligo?
Vitiligo is a skin disorder which presents as white spots and patches on the skin. This is due to a progressive loss of the pigment, melanin, which gives us our color. The loss of pigment occurs when pigment cells (melanocytes) are destroyed and melanin cannot be produced.
Vitiligo is not contagious.
Common sites affected include:
- Bony surfaces - back of hands and fingers, elbows and knees
- Around body orifices - around the eyes, mouth and nose
- Body folds - armpits and groins
- Other areas - legs,wrists,nipples and genitalia
Vitiligo may also develop over an area of injury such as a cut or burn. Hair within the affected patch may be white too.
Treatment of Vitiligo Management
What cause vitiligo?
The cause of vitiligo remains unknown. However, persons with vitiligo have a higher incidence of association with:
- 1. Diabetes mellitus
- 2. Thyroid disease
- 3. And other autoimmune diseases.
Can vitiligo be treated?
Yes. Several forms of treatment are available but the response to treatment varies with each person and site affected.
How can vitiligo be treated?
- 1. Corticosteroid creams
Potent corticosteroid creams are effective in some patients. Regular monitoring by your doctor is necessary to prevent side effects.
- 2. Psoralen photo chemotherapy(PUVA)
PUVA is a combination treatment involving the use of drug called PSORALEN (P) and then exposing the skin to ultraviolet(UVA)-hence the term PUVA .Psoralen makes the skin temporarily sensitive to UVA which forms part of natural sunlight. Psoralen can either be used in the lotion form or as tablets. When the lotion is used with subsequent exposure to UVA, the treatment is known as topical PUVA .If the tablet form is used, it is called oral PUVA.
Generally, topical PUVA is used to treat vitiligo affecting limited skin areas. Patients treated with PUVA must be prepared to undergo therapy for a year or longer for maximum results. Close medical supervision necessary. Use of psoralen lotion followed by exposure to sunlight may be risky and unreliable as the amount of UVA in sunlight varies from day to day. Artificial sources of UVA used under proper supervision are preferred.
- 3. Camouflage cosmetics
Some cosmetics can provide very good color match and camouflage and are particularly useful for white patches on the face and back of the hands.
- 4. Sunscreens
Areas affected by vitiligo are very prone to sunburn as they are devoid of protective pigments. It is advisable for patients to use broad spectrum high protection factor sunscreens in affected areas which may be exposed to sunlight.