Vitiligo is a common chronic inflammatory skin depigmentation condition that occurs when the cells that produce melanin stop functioning, resulting in patches of skin that appear white. It has a worldwide prevalence of 0.5-1%. This condition is also called leucoderma (leuco meaning white and derma meaning skin). Some famous people affected by this skin pigment disorder vitiligo have been the late king of pop, Michael Jackson, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) supremo N. Chandrababu Naidu, etc.
People who experience vitiligo often feel embarrassed and uncomfortable with their appearance, especially if they have it on prominent areas of their body such as the face or hands. While there is no cure for vitiligo, there are some treatments available to help restore an individual's pigmentation. In this article, we will explore these options and discuss how you can restore your vitiligo pigmentation.
What are the causes of Vitiligo?
The main cause of vitiligo is the loss of melanin, the pigment that gives your skin its colour. Vitiligo can occur when the cells that produce melanin die or stop functioning. It’s not known why this happens.
Vitiligo may be an autoimmune disorder. In people with vitiligo, the immune system attacks and destroys the melanocytes. This can happen in other autoimmune disorders, such as thyroid disease and diabetes.
Several other factors have been linked to the development of vitiligo including:
- Sunburn or other trauma to the skin
- Exposure to certain chemicals
Symptoms of Vitiligo
The symptoms of vitiligo consist of:
- White spots or discoloured patches on the skin. The size may be very small spots to large spots. In rare cases, there is total depigmentation of the skin.
- The white spots can have an unpredictable rate of spread and change in size. Mostly these spots get enlarged.
- Individuals may experience premature greying or lightening of hair colour.
Types of vitiligo
Universal vitiligo: It can affect all skin surfaces.
generalized vitiligo: It affects many parts of the body
segmental vitiligo: It affects only one side or part of the body.
localized (focal) vitiligo: Affects only a few areas of the body
acrofacial vitiligo: This affects most hands and legs and around body openings such as eyes, nose, and ears.
An important thing to remember is that vitiligo is not life-threatening or contagious. Whatever the disease, one should always treat those affected with care and empathy.
Treatment for Restoration of Pigmentation
Many people affected by vitiligo are seeking ways to restore the natural pigmentation of their skin. There is no single solution to curing vitiligo but many treatments are available that can help reduce the appearance of patches and improve pigmentations.
Treatment for vitiligo can be effective, but it often takes several months or even years to see results. It is important to continue with treatment even when there is no improvement, as discontinuing treatment may cause repigmentation to reverse.
The most common medical treatment for vitiligo is topical corticosteroids. Corticosteroids are anti-inflammatory drugs that can help to stimulate the production of melanocytes. Topical corticosteroids are usually applied once or twice a day for several months. Dosages depend on the particular drug and the prescription provided by the dermatologist.
Phototherapy involves exposing the affected areas of the skin to ultraviolet light. This light helps to stimulate the production of melanocytes and can also help to destroy any remaining pigment cells. Psoralen plus ultraviolet A (PUVA) therapy is a type of phototherapy that uses ultraviolet A (UVA) light along with a photosensitizing drug called psoralen. Excimer laser therapy uses a focused beam of ultraviolet B (UVB) light to destroy remaining pigment cells while sparing the surrounding tissue.
There are also treatments available from the Ayurvedic and Homeopathic medical streams. Among Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, and Homeopathy (AYUSH) branches, Unani is claimed to have the best treatment for vitiligo. Alternative treatments especially Homeopathy aim at eliminating the root cause of the disease. Hence, a ‘constitutional’ approach is adopted in Homeopathy to treat the patient’s symptoms. That said, there are some important remedies like Arsenicum sulfuratum flavum, Arsenicum album, etc.
Another treatment option for vitiligo is depigmentation therapy, which involves bleaching the unaffected skin to match the light patches. It is usually recommended for those with extensive vitiligo and can be a good solution if other treatments are not effective. However, this is a permanent treatment as the pigmentation cannot be reversed if the individual decides they want to restore their original skin colour.
A less-invasive treatment option for vitiligo is micro-skin repigmentation, which involves using tiny needles to deposit pigments into the skin. These pigments are designed to replicate the natural colour and texture of the skin and can be customized to match the individual’s needs. The pigments are applied in a thin layer to avoid any visible markings, allowing for a more natural look. The pigments gradually fade over time and will need to be reapplied periodically.
Other treatment options
Several home remedies may help reduce the appearance of vitiligo, such as applying aloe vera gel and turmeric paste to the affected areas. Additionally, vitamins A and D may also help to restore some of the lost pigmentations.
Researchers all over the world are trying to find new cures for this disease using techniques as diverse as gene editing/genome engineering, protein engineering, etc. Stem cell therapy is an exciting concept for the regeneration of pigmentation lost in diseases like vitiligo. It is still in the experimental stages.
Platelet-Rich Plasma treatment
Despite the above-mentioned treatment strategies being effective, alternative and emerging treatments like Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) are helpful in the promotion and regeneration of normal cellular function in vitiligo.
PRP is an emerging and encouraging option for the treatment of vitiligo pigmentation. It is safe for treating stable vitiligo lesions in different sites of the body. Especially when PRP is used in combination with other physical procedures like fractional carbon dioxide laser.
How does PRP work?
PRP creates a rich environment for the growth of the cells producing melanin, i.e., melanocytes. This occurs via the stimulation of different factors necessary for the growth of melanocytes. Ultimately, this leads to the repigmentation of the skin.
PRP utilizes a patient’s blood, which is processed to separate the platelets and plasma. This concentrated solution which is rich in plasma is then injected into the patient’s tissues. This provides a natural source of healing proteins that can help alleviate symptoms and restore function to damaged areas.
Vitiligo can be a difficult condition to manage but there are many treatments available that may help restore the pigmentation. Whether you choose to use topical creams or supplements, light therapy, or laser treatment, it's important to consult with your doctor and consider all of your options before selecting the best course of action for you. With patience and perseverance, vitiligo pigmentation can be restored over time and you'll soon find yourself looking and feeling great again!
PRP treatment is a safe and effective way of restoring vitiligo pigmentation. This is safe, utilizes the patient’s blood and when used in conjunction with other treatment procedures is one of the best ways at restoring vitiligo pigmentation. The above treatments can be used synergistically under the able guidance of experienced dermatologists.
We (UnCover) bring the latest technologies for the alleviation of your symptoms and their relief in the safest way possible. Chemical peels, Q-switch laser, carbon facial, and mesotherapy are some of the other advanced skin care procedures offered by us. Only United States-Food & Drug Administration (US-FDA) approved technologies are utilized by us.
Our PRP treatment for vitiligo starts from Rs 3000. Our team of experienced dermatologists will help you arrive at the root cause of your vitiligo and offer effective treatment options. Book a free consultation now and get in touch with us today.