As we all know the color of the human skin is due to the presence of melanin. The melanin is a pigment and its production cells is handled by the pigment cells known as melanocytes. When these cells are unable to produce melanin or are destroyed, it leads to formation of white spots (depigmentation) on the affected part of the skin. These white patches might be either small or big depending upon the severity of the skin problem. Treatment options are discussed below:
Application of prescribed ointments on the affected part of the skin brings the desired result, only when the treatment is taken on time. Topical therapy is effective when the disease is in its early stages of development. When the white patches have just begun to form, applying these corticosteroid creams or ointments like calcipotriene can definitely help to eliminate these white spots and bring back natural color of the skin. Once the treatment has started, the patient will notice a considerable decrease in the appearance of the white patches in 3 - 4 months time. This is considered to be the best cure for vitiligo when the disease is treated in its initial stages.
PUVA is a re-pigmentation treatment and involves getting rid of those white spots. PUVA stands for psoralen ultraviolet A radiation. In this condition, the person is first asked to take a medicine known as psoralen. A thin coat of psoralen is applied on the affected part of the skin. The thin coating of psoralen is allowed to remain there for a period of 30 minutes. It is then exposed to ultraviolet A light. Psoralen, basically increases the sensitivity of the skin towards ultraviolet light. Thus, affected skin with vitiligo, responds quite well when it is bombarded with ultraviolet A waves. As the skin is very much sensitive to UVA light, the light waves penetrate deep into the skin to correct the problem. Bombarding the skin with UVA light turns the affected part of the skin turns pink and eventually normal skin color is achieved. 2-3 sessions are generally required to restore natural appearance of the skin. PUVA is useful only when not more than 20 percent of the skin is affected with vitiligo.
Oral Psoralen and Ultraviolet A Waves
In case, more than 20 percent of the body is affected with these white spots, then the strategy to treat vitiligo is slightly changed. In such cases, the patient is advised to take psoralen pills or capsules before UVA exposure.
When the skin loses its natural color and turns light, the process is known as depigmentation. In case, presence of vitiligo is observed in 50% of the body, then PUVA treatments are not used. On the other hand, the normal skin that is not affected with vitiligo is treated (depigmented) so that the color matches with the vitiligo affected skin. The drug that is used to depigment the skin is known as monobenzenzyl ether of hydroquinone. The medicine is applied two times daily on the unaffected part of the skin so as to depigment it. This procedure is stopped when the normal areas of the skin resemble the vitiligo affected skin.
A person diagnosed with vitiligo should avoid meat (that includes fish). Doctor advice their patients to eat vegetables like spinach broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts and carrots. Also avoid spices and junk food as they could irritate. When it comes to fruits, vitiligo patients should eat mangoes, peaches, apples and black dates. Drinking plenty of water is equally important for the treatment of vitiligo.
Use of herbs such as St. John Wart can contribute immensely to minimize the appearance of white spots. Rubbing St John wort alcohol tincture can be helpful in this regard. One can also rub fresh juice of another herb known as lemna (wild duck) on the white patches 4 -5 times daily to decrease their appearance.
Along with the aforementioned treatment options, one has to take certain precautions to speed up healing. Exposure to sun for a person with vitiligo is not recommended. The harmful UV rays will turn the skin darker. This in turn will make the white spots more prominent and noticeable. So applying a sunscreen lotion (SPF more than 30) without fail, before going out in the sun will keep these damaging effects of the UV rays at bay.
If you are not comfortable with the aforementioned treatment options, you can always take the help of special make ups to conceal these undesirable changes in the skin. Remember, the key to get rid of this problem is to treat it as early as possible.