Vitiligo is an autoimmune disease that causes patches or blotches of skin to lose pigment making them appear lighter or discoloured. It can affect any part of the body even sensitive areas like around the eyes or nose. These patches can be small or large but do not cause any pain or irritation to the patient and it is not contagious.
Depending on the severity of your symptoms, you will have a few options for treatments for vitiligo. Outlined below are some of the most popular treatments for Vitiligo.
One of the most popular treatments for Vitiligo is Light Therapy, also known as Phototherapy. This treatment involves direct controlled exposure of Ultraviolet rays to the affected areas to slow the progression of active vitiligo. Bear in mind that this is not a quick fix treatment as you will need therapy a few times a week and it could take several months before you notice any changes.
The great thing about Light Therapy is that you can purchase smaller handheld or portable devices to use at home if you are unable to get to the doctors several times a week. Your medical practitioner will be able to suggest some reputable brands if you are considering home treatment.
One of the most popular Treatments for Vitiligo is to use Topical Creams. Most of these are easily accessible in supermarkets or over the counter at chemists. It is recommended that you use these creams daily to reduce the speed of growth on the white patches and some have even been proven to return colour to affected areas.
Your doctor may prescribe you with a stronger cream or ointment that can control inflammation to the affected area. Corticosteroids are prescribed when vitiligo is still in its early stages but you might not see changes for several months as these work to build up the pigmentation in the skin.
If you do not feel like you have had good results from either topical creams or light therapy, another treatment for Vitiligo is to undergo a surgical procedure. This is something your doctor will need to recommend after consultation and or monitoring of your condition. Your surgery may depend on the location of your Vitiligo and is also only recommended for adult patients.
Skin Grafting – This is a procedure where the surgeon removes healthy sections of your pigmented skin and surgical transfers it to the areas that have lost pigment. This procedure is most commonly used on areas where you have small patches of Vitiligo and is one of the more daunting treatments for vitiligo.
Blister Grafting – Similar to skin grafting, blister grafting is where surgeons create a blister on your healthy unaffected skin by using a suction device and then transplant the top of the blister onto an area that has lost pigment. This procedure is often preferred by surgeons as it has fewer risks.
Melanocyte Cell Transplantation – This is a new needling micro-grafting technique where surgeons remove melanocytes (skin cells) and let them grow in a lab until they are cultivated and ready for transplant on the affected skin. This is done to reintroduce healthy cells to enable the start of depigmentation on the discoloured area.
Now that we have covered some of the most popular treatments for Vitiligo, it is up to you to decide which treatment is right for you. Remember to look after your skin especially in the sun and to report any changes to your doctor. Technology is always evolving and there are some high-tech treatments that are currently being studied in universities around the world, including a drug called Afamelanotide which is implanted under the skin to promote the growth of melanocytes (skin cells)