Categorized | Anti-Aging

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Vitiligo is Treatable

Vitiligo affects millions of people in the United States, presenting as porcelain colored white spots on the skin. While some patients simply cover their vitiligo with suncreens and / or cover-ups, there are effective treatments to often brings the color back.

Firstly, you need to eat a balanced diet that contains protein. The body especially needs two proteins, Phenylalanine and Glutamine to manufacture melanin, the pigment in your skin. An alternative is to take these as pills. Anti-oxidant vitamins have also helped some patients. There are prescription creams which can be applied at night to bring the color back. Cortisone and tacrolimus are used most frequently. These take months to work. When the color starts to return it begins as small dots that gradually enlarge.

A newer topical treatment is pepper oil which contains piperine. Recent studies show promise. These topicals work alone but the best results are when they are combined with narrow band ultraviolet light. This is best delivered with the excimer laser or in a light box. An older treatment that is occasionally used is PUVA. Narrowband UVB is better tolerated then PUVA as with narrowband UVB here are no complication such as abdominal pain and the need for eye protection needed with PUVA. With PUVA the patient takes an extract from celery by mouth or applies this chemical on the skin and UVA, the tanning rays are delivered to the skin. Sometimes we use surgery to treat the white areas.

Normally pigmented skin is removed and grown in the lab. On the same day they are transplanted to the white spots. This is called Noncultured MK and can be performed on all areas, even sensitive areas such as the eyelids, genitals, fingers and toes. If patients have more than 50% of their pigment lost and do not want to undergo treatment, then all the bodies pigment can be removed. This is accomplished with a topical cream called monobenzone. This is a drastic step and must only be done wants the patient understand the permanency of this action.

Cultural counseling before this is done is important. If a vitiligo patient chooses to use a cosmetic cover-up then they should shy away from self tanners that contain dihydroxyacetone. There is recent evidence that self-tanners with this chemical can prevent the effectiveness of the treatments discussed above. Remember there are treatments of vitiligo. Find a doctor who understands your concerns, your disease and its treatment.

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