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Young Woman with Vitiligo on Face and Arms

What's the best Treatment for Vitiligo?

By Dr. Kristie

Have you been diagnosed with vitiligo? Vitiligo is a frustrating, and often disfiguring skin condition characterized by loss of pigment in areas of the skin that are affected. This can be very noticeable if large areas of the skin are involved or if the natural skin color is dark.

Many people who are diagnosed with this skin disorder are reluctant to expose the affected areas due to embarrassment. If you’re experiencing the heartaches of vitiligo, you may want to explore the various treatment options available. What is the best way to treat vitiligo?

Although no one knows exactly what causes vitiligo, this condition involves destruction of the cells that produce skin pigment, giving rise to areas of depigmentation. It tends to be more common in certain families, suggesting a genetic component.

Although it may involve only small areas of skin, this isn’t always the case. In some unlucky people, it can affect over ten percent of the body. There are a variety of ways to treat vitiligo ranging from coverage of the affected areas with special make-up to surgical grafting.

In general, vitiligo involving the head and neck is more easily treated than areas involving the lower portion of the body. In some cases, strong, prescription steroid based creams can be used to promote restoration of pigment to the affected areas, although this isn’t always successful.

Another approach is to use a chemical called a psoralen. This is photosensitizing agent that’s taken by mouth followed by exposure of the skin to ultraviolet light. The psoralen makes the areas affected by vitiligo more sensitive to UV light so that it’ll form pigment.

This requires a series of treatments that can last a year or more and can only used when limited areas are involved. This procedure has potentially serious side effects including an increased risk of skin cancer and sun damage if exposed to the sun and is not effective for everyone.

In some cases, to treat vitiligo, your doctor might suggest the option of surgery which involves applying grafts to the depigmented areas. To treat vitiligo that involves larger areas of the body, depigmentation therapy is sometimes used to blend the natural skin color with the areas affected by loss of pigment.

This procedure takes many months and completely destroys the melanocytes, making it irreversible.

If you’ve been diagnosed with vitiligo, it’s important to wear a sunscreen and sun protective clothing because depigmented areas are quite sensitive to the sun. Avoiding sun exposure entirely on the affected areas is ideal.

Fortunately, the cosmetic world has made it easier to treat vitiligo without medications or surgery. There are concealers available that are designed specifically for hard-to-cover skin conditions such as vitiligo. Dermablend and Covermark are two brands that may help.    

As you can see, there are viable treatment options for vitiligo, but they aren’t always successful. These are all options to discuss with your dermatologist who can help you decide the best approach to treat vitiligo successfully.

About the Author

She is a Medical Doctor with a concentration in Family Practice. She also has an undergraduate degree in both Biology and Psychology and masters in Clinical Pathology.



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Disclaimer: Articles not intended to Diagnose, Treat, Cure or Prevent Diseases.

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