Vitiligo Symptoms: Vitiligo also known as leucoderma is a common abnormality and there is no significant difference in its incidence as regards gender, race or age. About 1-2% of the population suffers from leucoderma. Its symptoms are more noticeable in darker skinned people because of the contrast of white patches against dark skin. Vitiligo is not contagious at all; it does not cause any physical discomfort like, pain, itching, rash etc. Vitiligo symptoms may appear at any age, but commonly observed in between the 20 and 30 years old. People who develop vitiligo usually first notice a sudden or gradual appearance of milky white patches in the flat areas of their normal skin, with complete de-pigmentation. These white spots are the most common over bony prominences.
Although any part of body may suffer from vitiligo, but it usually develops first in the skin areas exposed to sun, such as your hands, feet, arms, face and lips. The other common areas for white patches to appear are the armpits and groin, eye (retina), nostrils, navel, genitals and inner lining of mouth. In addition to white patches on the skin, people with vitiligo may have premature graying of the scalp hair, eyelashes, eyebrows, and beard.
This disorder has many patterns distribution but generally, it appears in one of three patterns; focal, segmental and generalized patterns respectively. In focal pattern, the depigmentation is limited to one or only a few areas. In segmented pattern, white patches develop on only one side of the body whereas in generalized pattern, the patches appear all over the body. Sometime, these white spots or patches may appear as mirror images on the opposite side of the body.
Vitiligo Treatments: The treatment of vitiligo is different for every individual because it depends on the severity of its condition. The natural course of vitiligo is difficult to predict but sometimes the patches stop forming without its treatment. It usually takes a period of 6 to 18 months for its treatment. The basic object of treating vitiligo is to restore the function of the skin and to improve the patient’s appearance.
The current vitiligo treatment options include medical, surgical, and adjunctive therapies (therapies that can be used along with surgical or medical treatments). A particular vitiligo treatment may not work for every one. The choice of vitiligo treatment depends on the number of white patches and how widespread they are and on the patient’s preference for treatment. Therapies for treatment of vitiligo take a long time, and each patient responds differently to therapy. Following are the some effective vitiligo treatments.
(1) Light therapy Or PUVA Treatment:
PUVA light treatment has a high success rate; and about 50-70% of people affected by vitiligo show a very good response to this treatment. It is a very successful but time-consuming vitiligo treatment. This vitiligo treatment requires 2-4 sessions per week the duration of treatment can hence span over more than a years. Roughly 50% of the people may respond satisfactorily and regain their lost pigmentation.
(Note: PUVA (psoralen and ultraviolet A light) treatment can cause skin cancer because of the extra exposure to UVA rays. Therefore, it is not recommended for children or pregnant women. Ultraviolet B (UVB) light is also sometimes used in light therapy.
(2) Home Remedies:
There are many useful home remedies for treatment of vitiligo. Psoralen is the most effective herb used in many vitiligo treatment. It is used both as a home remedy as well as in the form of delicately formulated medication, like PUVA. This compound sensitizes the human skin to the tanning effect of UV light (Sun light) thereby enhancing pigmentation. Its use with tamarind seeds, turmeric or ginger juice in specific proportion, is very helpful for home treatment of vitiligo. But caution must be exercised in the use of Psoralens, as they may be harmful outside the hands of experts.
(3) Alternate treatments:
The term alternative treatment encompasses many haling practices like, naturopathy, chiropractic, herbal medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, Unani, Ayurveda, meditation, biofeedback, hypnosis, homeopathy, acupuncture, and diet-based therapies, etc. Such kind of treatments may incorporate or base themselves on traditional medicine, folk knowledge, spiritual beliefs, or newly conceived approaches to treat vitiligo.
Conventional vitiligo treatments are subjected to testing for undesired side-effects, whereas alternative treatments generally are not subjected to such testing at all. Following are the some alternative treatments for vitiligo.
(4) Homeopathic Treatment:
Homeopathy like the allopathic medicine believes vitiligo to be a systemic disease, with localized expression. It aims at detection and restoration of abnormalities in the constitution of the body. This treatment necessarily means that, the vitiligo person has to be treated and supervised by homeopathic professional.
Ayurvedic treatments include herbal/ natural remedial systems in addition to certain other disciplines like surgery and use of heavy metals. The ayurvedic approach for vitiligo is similar to herbal and natural approaches. Some of the experts also recommend therapeutic vomiting and purgation for vitiligo.
(6) Prescription Medicine:
Prescription medicines are those therapies, which are regulated by public laws and their sales, is generally prohibited without prescription form a medical professional. Such kind of medicines may also help in treatment of vitiligo but their side effects are also observed scientifically. The main disadvantage however they are very expensive and not as effective in vitiligo as some of the herbal products are.
(7) Surgical Therapy:
This kind of vitiligo treatment involves in autologous skin grafting. The pigment containing skin from one area of the body is surgically shifted to an area where there is no pigment. The success is usually no predictable and the result may more un-acceptable than the base line. When the cost, the hassle and the risk of surgical complication like scarring and infection are added, it becomes a fairly risk option to go for.