What is Vitiligo?
Vitiligo is a disease that causes the loss of skin pigment on any area of the body. It may appear generalized, in segments, involve the scalp hair, and concentrate around any body orifice. It occurs when the pigment-producing cells of the skin are absent. This condition affects people of all skin types but is usually more noticeable in those with skin of color.
This condition may cluster in families, so you are more likely to get it if someone else has it in your family. Those with certain autoimmune diseases such as thyroid disease or type 1 diabetes can also raise your chances of developing it.
Common signs of vitiligo include:
- Loss of skin color in patches, which usually occurs first on the face, hands, and areas around body openings.
- Loss of color in the tissue that lines the inside of the nose and mouth.
- Early whitening or the hair on the scalp, eyebrows, beard, or eyelashes.
There are different types of vitiligo, including:
- Generalized Vitiligo: This is the most common type, which involves discolored patches all over the body.
- Segmental Vitiligo: Discolored patches are confined to one side of the body.
- Focal Vitiligo: The discoloration stays in one spot and does not spread over time.
- Trichrome Vitiligo: There are areas of heavy discoloration, followed by an area of lighter discoloration, followed by regular skin tone.
- Universal Vitiligo: This is the rarest type, where at least 80% of the skin is affected.
Who is a Good Candidate for Vitiligo Treatment?
Individuals whose vitiligo is causing them low self-esteem or anxiety can benefit from treatment. An assessment by one of our dermatologists is needed to properly diagnose and treat this condition. Contact our office today to schedule your consultation.
Heliocare Advanced is a daily dietary supplement made with exclusive Fernblock® Polypodium leucotomos extract (PLE) technology. The advanced formula also contains nicotinamide. These ingredients may be used by dermatologists in a variety of skin conditions including blistering diseases, vitiligo, and non-melanoma skin cancer prevention.
What to Expect During Vitiligo Treatment?
In order to diagnose vitiligo, your dermatologist will most likely assess your skin during a physical exam. Blood tests or skin biopsies may also be performed. While there is no known way to cure vitiligo, there are treatments available to make the affected skin appear more even. These include:
- Medications to control inflammation: Opzelura (ruxolitinib) cream is a topical JAK inhibitor that is FDA approved to treat non-segmental vitiligo in patients 12 and older. Corticosteroid creams can be prescribed during the early stages of vitiligo to help the natural color of the skin to return. Corticosteroid pills or injections may be an option for those whose condition is progressing quickly.
- Calcineurin inhibitors: These medications (eg tacrolimus ointment) impact the skin’s immune system, and may be effective for those with small areas of depigmentation or those with facial involvement.
- Light therapy: Phototherapy with narrowband ultraviolet B (UVB) can stop or slow the progression of vitiligo. This treatment may be combined with calcineurin inhibitors or corticosteroids for the best results. Our office uses a stand-up whole body unit and XTRAC lasers.
Those with vitiligo are also encouraged to follow self-care techniques to improve its appearance. These include protecting your skin from the sun and wearing sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 when outside and avoiding getting tattoos, as this may cause damage to the skin and cause new patches of vitiligo to appear. Makeup and self-tanning products can also help to minimize the disparity in skin color.
Following Vitiligo Treatment
Following vitiligo treatment, patients can enjoy less noticeable vitiligo patches and more even skin tone. It is important that you follow your dermatologist’s specific instructions when it comes to treatment and aftercare for the best possible results.
Schedule a Consultation
If you are bothered by your vitiligo and would like to learn more about treatment options, contact our office today to schedule a consultation!
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