What is Vitiligo?
The colour of our hair and skin is determined by melanin. Vitiligo is a condition that causes a loss of melanin skin pigmentation in patches on the skin. In cases of vitiligo, cells that produce melanin stop functioning or die off. These discoloured areas often get larger over time. This disease can affect the skin on any part of the body. While this condition can start at any age, it usually occurs before age 30.
Common signs of vitiligo include:
- Patchy loss of skin colour. This usually first occurs on the hands, face, and areas around body openings and genitals.
- Loss of skin colour after trauma to the skin is sustained (e.g. a cut on the hand or falling on the knee).
- A cluster of premature whitening lightening of the hair on the scalp, eyelashes, eyebrows, or beard.
There are also different types of vitiligo, which affect different areas of the body. These include:
Generalized Vitiligo: This is the most common type, which affects many parts of the body. The patches of discolouration often progress symmetrically on corresponding body parts.
Universal Vitiligo: Discolouration affects nearly all of the skin surfaces.
Segmental Vitiligo: This type often occurs at a younger age, progress for a couple of years, and then stop. It affects only the side or part of the body.
Localized Vitiligo: Discoloration affects only one or a few areas of the body.
Acrofacial Vitiligo: The affected skin is on the hands or face, or around the eyes, nose, or ears.
Vitiligo Treatment Options
While there is no cure for vitiligo, there are a number of treatment options that can help to stop or slow the process of discolouration, as well as return some colour to the skin. These treatments include:
Creams to control inflammation: Corticosteroid creams may be prescribed for those with vitiligo in the early stages, and may help the skin’s natural colour to return.
Medications to affect the immune system: Calcineurin inhibitor ointments may be helpful for patients with small areas of depigmentation, especially on the neck and face.
Light Therapy: Phototherapy using narrowband ultraviolet B (UVB) can slow or even stop the progression of active vitiligo. It is sometimes used along with corticosteroids or calcineurin inhibitors for more effective results. Light therapy treatments require therapy 2-3 times a week and can take a few months before any changes are noticeable. This therapy is not available at Dermatelier on Avenue, but is available in some private offices and hospital settings.
Psoralen + Light Therapy: This treatment option combines psoralen, a substance derived from plants, with light therapy to return color to light patches of skin. After the psoralen is taken by mouth or applied to the skin, the targeted area is exposed to ultraviolet A (UVA) light. This therapy is available in the hospital setting.
Depigmentation: For vitiligo that is widespread and has not responded to other treatments, this therapy is rarely used, but may be a reasonable option. A depigmenting agent is applied to unaffected areas of skin. This will gradually lighten the skin so that it matches the discolored areas.
Who is a Good Candidate for Vitiligo Treatments?
Individuals who are unhappy or bothered with their vitiligo can benefit from vitiligo treatments. The best way to determine if you are a good candidate is to schedule a consultation appointment with Dr. Beach. During this meeting, you will be able to discuss your skin concerns and goals, as well as ask any questions that you may have. Dr. Beach will create a treatment plan that will best suit you.
What to Expect After Vitiligo Treatment?
Depending on the treatment option chosen, results may be seen after weeks or months. Dr. Beach will provide you with instructions on how to best use your vitiligo treatment for effective outcomes.
Contact Us Today
If you are interested in learning more about vitiligo treatments and what they can do for you, contact DermAtelier on Avenue today! Our team will be happy to let you know how to schedule your initial consultation with Dr. Beach.