White spots on the skin, which can affect people of any age, race or gender, are the result of a condition known as Vitiligo, which happens when melanocytes, the cells responsible for producing the skin pigment melanin, in the skin die off, and while the total skin area affected by the condition can vary, in most cases, the effects of the depigmentation are permanent. Melanin is not only responsible for providing the color to the skin, it also protects the skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays, thus making Vitiligo more than a mere beauty issue.

Unfortunately, not only is the exact cause of vitiligo unknown at this time, the condition currently has no known cure – however, researchers have found that exposure to UVA or UVB light can help some individuals with the condition. Below are some other alternative treatment options available for Vitiligo:

  • Phototherapy with UVA and UVB light: While there is no treatment that can remove the condition in its entirety, exposing the skin to UVA and UVB lights can provide some re-pigmentation. While UVA light treatment must be conducted in a hospital, UVB light treatment is a simple treatment that can be performed at home. For the treatment to be effective, it must be administered at least thrice weekly, but preferably daily – and it will still take 6 months to a year for the progress to be evident
  • Skin camouflage:  If the depigmentation is mild, it might be a good idea to cosmetically cover-up the white patch, rather than seek medical intervention. Not only are the creams and makeup available in the market today are waterproof, they can last up to 18 hours on the face, and up to 96 hours on the other parts of the body
  • Complete depigmentation: If the white patch covers more than 50% of the body, it might be worthwhile to explore the option of a complete depigmentation, wherein the skin color in unaffected areas in the body is reduced to match the tone of the affected areas, and is done by using strong chemicals such as monobenzone, mequinol or hydroquinone. However, as a side-effect of this treatment, the skin becomes too delicate and cannot be exposed to sun for too long
  • Corticosteroid Lotions: While these cannot cure the white patches, researchers have found that corticosteroid has been somewhat effective in preventing the spread. That said, it should be noted that these are steroids and should be used with caution (for example, never apply them on face), and under the guidance of a competent practitioner, who can decide to stop the treatment if the patches are not improving
  • Skin grafts: It may be an option to cover the white patches with healthy skin harvested from elsewhere in the body, however, it is a time-consuming and expensive procedure, and will leave the body scarred at two places.
  • Surgical Tattooing: In patients with darker skin tone, it might be an option to surgically implant pigments in the skin, much like tattooing. However, this runs a risk of triggering white patches as the procedure makes the skin weak. Also, it may be difficult to exactly match the skin tone, making the whole exercise sort of useless.

Vitiligostarts as a small, pale spot on the skin, and gradually become much larger and much paler. While the condition does not cause any discomfort, irritation, soreness or dryness (other than occasional itching), it can nevertheless be a source of stress to both, the patient and the family members. If you or a loved one has vitiligo, call us at 8008104199 or write to us at info@simhapurihospitals.comto properly diagnose the issue and evaluate treatment options available!

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