Vitiligo is a persistent or chronic condition in which areas of skin lose their normal pigment and become very pale, white, or pink. It is common, affecting about 1% of the world's population. Vitiligo is an autoimmune disease, which occurs when the body's infection-fighting system, called the "immune system," attacks healthy cells. In this case, the affected cells are the ones that give skin its color.
The extent of the condition is unpredictable, varying from single small area to total loss of skin color. In most people, it tends to change slowly, with periods of stability often lasting several years. The pigment may return in some patients, but is not guaranteed, and seldom returns completely.
There area several different treatment options, but restoring pigment loss is very difficult. Treatment options include:
Camoflague: Cosmetic products, self tanner, or makeup used mask or hide the light areas.
Sunscreens. Areas of vitiligo will burn easily in the sun. The use of a sunscreen with a high sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher to all exposed areas helps to protect skin affected by vitiligo, and also, when applied more widely, reduces the contrast between the areas of vitiligo and the surrounding normal skin.
Topical Corticosteroids: The application of a steroid anti-inflammatory cream or ointment to areas of vitiligo may restore some pigment. Side effects, such as thinning of the skin and stretch mark are increased with prolonged use.
Other Topical Medications: Other types of anti-inflammatory creams and ointments, such as calcineurin inhibitors and vitamin D analogues, may also restore pigment in some patients. These topical treatments will help avoid the corticosteroid side effect of skin thinning.
Phototherapy: This involves exposing affected skin to artificial ultraviolet light. Phototherapy may be helpful in a proportion of patients with vitiligo. However, treatment often needs to be prolonged (lasting at least several months). Full repigmentation is unusual and depigmentation after phototherapy can occur. Areas such as the fingertips and the skin around the lips are less likely to improve
Laser Treatment: Laser can be used to focus a beam of laser light directly at the affected skin. We use XTRAC Laser, which produces a highly effective, safe, and painless option resulting in effective treatment without the worry of harmful side effects of other agents.