Vitiligo treatment is a confusing term as some people think that a particular vitiligo treatment would eradicate the root cause of this disorder. But thatís not true because no vitiligo treatment can permanently cure vitiligo even the latest vitiligo treatments canít do this. A number of treatments for vitiligo are available but these treatments either deal with re-pigmentation or psychological counseling. When we undertake the task of treatment of Vitiligo, we must realize that we may need to address various facets of this problem from different angles. People usually seeks vitiligo treatments because of with one or more of the following intentions
- 1. Management of the unsightly patches of hypo-pigmented skin
- 2. Management of the psychosocial problems resulting from relationship issues with fellow people
- 3. Permanent eradication of the basic disease process from the body
We shall take all of these in turn.
Management of the unsightly patches of hypo-pigmented skin
Hypo-pigmented patches or a single patch of skin is the basic problem which needs to be addressed before we can take up the other issues. Here is a brief summary of treatments for vitiligo.
- Prescription Medicine
- Topical steroid therapy
- Psoralen Photo-chemotherapy
- Alternate treatments
- Oral therapies with natural Psoralen
- Topical therapies using natural Psoralen
- Ayer Vedic
- Surgical Therapy
- Autologous skin grafts
- Skin grafts using blisters
- Autologous melanocyte transplants
- Skin Camouflage Techniques
- Home Remedies
Prescription medicines either use topical steroid or psoralen. Prescription medicines are those therapies that are regulated by legislation and their sales is prohibited without a prescription. Prescription medicines are mainly backed by scientific research. The two main disadvantages of prescription medicines are that these medicines are quite expensive when it comes to treatment of vitiligo.
Topical Steroid Therapy
Steroids are fairly potent suppressor of immunity and are proved beneficial in treatment of auto-immune diseases. Topical steroid therapy is used in the form of topical creams and ointments during the early stages of vitiligo. Topical steroid therapy is one of the most widely used vitiligo treatment for re-pigmentation of white patches if started in the initial stages of vitiligo. Doctors often prescribe milder steroids to children whereas intense steroids are prescribed to adults. These are mostly recommended for a period of three years and their effect is generally temporary.
Psoralen photo-chemotherapy is also known psoralen and ultraliolet A (PUVA). This therapy uses a combination of psoralen and UVA. Psoralen is a natural compound found in the seeds of Psoralea corylifolia (important plant in Indian Ayurevedic System). It is also found in common fig, parsley, West Indian satinwood and celery. Firstly psoralen is either taken by mouth or applied to the de-pigmented area of skin, this sensitizes the skin. After that the de-pigmented area is exposed to UVA light which helps in re-pigmentation. This treatment is better than the steroid topical therapy.
The mainstay of alternative medicine again is Psoralens which are a group of naturally occurring substances which make human skin more sensitive to the tanning effect of sun light. Natural vitiligo treatment is based on natural psoralens that are naturally found in many substances like the seeds of Psoralea corylifolia, common fig, parsley, celery, and West Indian satinwood. Of all the alternate methods of treating Vitiligo, the most useful are those which employ psoralens in one form or the other.
Oral Psoralen Therapy
Psoralens are common ingested for treating Vitiligo in raw form as well as in the form of various recipes, and it is usually effective especially when combined with sun exposure, but compliance is quite poor, and very few people will continue to take them because of the following reasons
- - Bitter and unpalatable taste
- - Oral psoralens usually need to be ingested in large quantities and can be very cumbersome
- - Raw psoralens are very notorious for unpleasant side effects
- - Orally ingested psoralens can result in an overall darkening of complexion which may not be acceptable especially in Asians.
- - The benefit may be temporary and short lived.
Topical psoralen therapy
Various recipes of topical psoralens have been developed by various veterans of the art in the form of oils, concoctions and extracts, which may contain more than one ingredient. Such recipes are usually superior to ingestion of raw psoralens. They are applied to the affected skin, which gradually pigments later when exposed to sun. Anti-Vitiligo which is presently the most effective topical psoralen recipe contains psoralen corylifolia in the strength of 8% W/W, with other ingredients which modulate, and amplify the photosensitizing effect of the recipe. It has produced near-permanent re-pigmentation, which is in sharp contrast to the usual behavior of psoralen. More about Anti-Vitiligo Ingredients.
Homeopaths also regard Vitiligo as a systemic disorder like the allopaths and believe in treating the disorder only at a systemic level. Homeopathic treatment focuses on restoration of the normal functioning and balance of pigmentary systems of the body.
Ayurvedic is a multidisciplinary system of medicine which employs herbal products as well as surgery and use of heavy metals as part of recipe. Their approach to the treatment of vitiligo is similar to the natural approach. Therapeutic vomiting and purgatives is also recommended by some Ayurveds.
Surgical therapy is the latest vitiligo treatment which consists of autologous skin grafts, epidermal blister grafting, autologous melanocytes transplants and tattooing but all these treatments must be considered only after proper medical therapies are failed.
Autologous Skin Grafts
Autologous skin grafting is commonly used to treat patients with small vitiligo patches. In autologous skin grafting the doctor removes skin either from the skin donor or from patients own normally pigmented area of skin and transplants it to the de-pigmented area of patientís skin. The success is usually not predictable and several complications may occur. Treated persons may develop scarring or re-pigmentation may fail at all.
Skin Grafts Using Blisters
In this procedure the doctor creates blisters on the pigmented area of skin using heat, suction, or freezing cold. Afterwards the top of these blisters are cut out and transplanted to the de-pigmented area of skin. The success rate of re-pigmentation is not very encouraging due to the risk of scarring. But still this type of skin grafting is considered better than the other types because it involves less risk of scarring.
Autologous Melanocyte Transplants
Autologous melanocyte transplantation is the most advanced and latest surgical treatment. Melanocytes from healthy area of skin are taken and placed in a laboratory dish containing a special cell-culture solution to grow melanocytes. When the number of these melanocytes is multiplied, then these melanocytes are transplanted to the damaged area of skin.
Tattooing is used as a camouflage technique. In tattooing artificial pigment is deposited into the skin with the help of traditional tattooing needles or by using surgical instruments. The accuracy of color match depends on the skills of person doing it. Tattooing works better on darker skin and tattooed skin may become lighter with the passage of time. Chances of serious infections increase if tattooing is done through traditional methods. Tattooing should only be carried out by certified licensed professional.
Skin Camouflage Techniques
Skin camouflaging is the art of disguising blemishes on the skin by using special creams without treating its underlying cause. Paramedical skin camouflaging products differ from normal cosmetic products in a way that these products are water resistant, long lasting and provide sun protection. When a skin camouflage product is applied it helps the white patch in mimicking the exact skin color and blend in with the normal skin.
Various home remedies and tidbits are popular in various societies and cultures, and it is very difficult to predict their results. Most people however seek professional help when they have already tried some domestic remedy. Such remedies may be in the form of dietary modifications but more frequently they are based on topical or oral psoralens
Management of the psychosocial problems resulting from relationship issues with fellow people
Often people with vitiligo start underestimating themselves because of their appearance. These people undergo psychological turmoil like feeling ashamed of their physical appearance and always try to avoid social gatherings. Such people should not get discouraged and should go for the best vitiligo treatments. They should consult a mental health professional and get counselling. These people can also go for new vitiligo treatments like cosmetic camouflaging. Cosmetic camouflaging helps in disguising vitiligo patches and help patient look better.
Permanent eradication of the basic disease process from the body
When it comes to vitiligo the words like ďpermanent cureĒ vanishes away. No permanent cure for vitiligo is available even the latest and new vitiligo treatments canít do this. So people trying to permanently cure this disorder should go for treatments that either help in re-pigmentation or temporary camouflage