Vitiligo is a chronic skin disorder in which the skin loses melanin, the skin’s natural pigment. The disease manifests itself by irregular patches of depigmentation throughout the skin, which are caused by the failure of melanocytes to produce melanin. Approximately 65 million people in the world have the condition; of that number, two million are in the United States. The condition has been in the news due to the disorder being a problem for some high profile celebrities, most famously by the late king of pop, Michael Jackson.
While it is not curable, there are various treatments which help manage vitiligo. Treatment options include synthetic medicines, as well as natural preparations. Part of daily management of vitiligo often includes applying sunblock and using camouflage cream.
Conventional Treatments For Vitiligo
There are a number of conventional medical treatments for vitiligo, the most common being steroidal therapy (corticosteroids), immunomodulators, and photochemotherapy.
• Corticosteroids: Steroidal creams serve to regulate inflammation of the skin, and take about three months of continued use before an even skin tone is achieved. It is ideal for the treatment of the early stages of vitiligo. Familiar ones include Diprolene and Temovate.
• Topical ointments: Topical immunomodulators are non-steroidal. They come in preparations which contain tacrolimus or pimecromilus to help reduce skin inflammation. These ointments are applied to areas such as the neck and face of vitiligo patients.
• Photochemotherapy: Photochemotherapy is the treatment of vitiligo through the use of oral or topical psolaren and ultraviolet treatment (PUVA). Topical PUVA treatment involves applying a topical psolaren on the skin twice a week, 30 minutes before sun exposure. The skin then turns pink due to UVA sensitivity, but a more normal skin color appears upon the healing process. Oral psolarens, on the other hand, are taken thrice weekly, and have the same effects. Both processes must only be administered personally by a physician.
Possible side effects: The use of corticosteroids may result in the thinning of the skin or streaking. Topical immunomodulators need to be studied further but some studies indicate that they must be monitored and can increase the risk of illnesses. PUVA use has been associated with nausea, blistering, sunburn and hyperpigmentation.
Natural Treatments For Vitiligo
Vitiligo is a challenging condition to treat. One naturopathic treatment for vitiligo patients is a preparation of extract of Ginkgo biloba, which is derived from ginkgo tree leaves. Rich in flavinoid glycosides and terpinoids (which are powerful antioxidants and natural immune system modulators), studies have shown that extract of ginkgo has been proven to slow down the progression of depigmentation, and can help to repigment the skin in adults to some degree.
Chinese herbalists prescribe both the topical and internal use of the psoralea seed extract. More than treating the epidermis, this herbal formula is targeted at improving blood circulation and organ function as a means to improve autoimmune disorders. For the treatment of vitiligo, the therapeutic principle applied is the nourishment of the kidney, which improves blood circulation.. A common preparation for vitiligo patients is a compound tablet composed of carthamus, ho-shou-wu, scorpion, tribulus, spirodela, xanthium, tang-kuei, and cnidium, which are ground into powder and made into 10 gram tablet dosages taken two to three times daily.
Diet: On some psoriasis forums people have discussed research and information on the effects of reducing wheat, eliminating anti-inflammatory foods and keeping a food diary.
Possible side effects: The use of gingko biloba has been linked with cases of allergic reactions, diarrhea, indigestion, nausea, and muscle weakness.
Deciding on Treatment Options
Treatments for vitiligo, whether they are conventional or derived from natural practices, all aim to relieve the patient of the condition. Finding the best treatment for this condition is a matter of making important decisions about one’s overall well-being, especially since vitiligo itself already has emotional, physical and psychological effects. Psychological coping is important and can make the difference between despondency and acceptance. The vitiligo pictures video discusses two different people’s responses to their condition and how important it is to be able to not just identify with your appearance. We are much more than our appearance and it is how we treat others as well as our self-development traits that really endear us the most to people.