- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
The Vitiligo Cure
The Vitiligo Cure -- Taking Control of Your Vitiligo
Vitiligo, also known as leukoderma, is a skin condition that affects roughly 2% of the American people. This means that over 6 million people suffer from this loss of skin color (depigmentation) on different parts of their body. Unfortunately the areas affected can be highly visible such as the face and hands. The cells responsible for the production of melanin (the protein that creates skin color) suddenly begin to die. It can seem to appear overnight. Because of the quick onset of vitiligo, doctors strongly believe that it is an autoimmune condition. Something changes in how the person’s body processes an element of their environment. Instead of ignoring it the body starts to attack it. The antibodies produced in this defense also attack the pigment-producing cells of the skin causing them to die producing the effect we call vitiligo.
Girl with vitiligo talks about Michael Jackson
While vitiligo is not a cancer it is still very life changing. The psychological effects and social stigma the changes in skin color can create have a very negative effect on the life of the person suffering from vitiligo. This effect must never be underestimated. It can cause depression and social isolation, things that no one wants for themselves or their loved ones.
A second life changer is how autoimmune diseases can sap energy and well-being from the patient. The body is busy fighting itself, rather than putting its energy towards what you want to do. Successful control of vitiligo will restore a person's energy level, which will restore a sense of well-being. At first the efforts to change may feel herculean, but once they are in place and functioning they will no longer require such effort. Instead the gains are large enough to feed the desire to maintain the changes.
Vitiligo has been linked to three major factors: genetics, environment, and lifestyle. Vitiligo was identified many years ago but it is still studied intensively today because there is no clear cure for it. There is no single drug, treatment, or combination that can stop progression of the disease and reverse the changes caused by vitiligo.
Vitiligo tends to run in families, passing down from one generation to the next. This is the “genetic” part of the disease. Since we have no control over what we inherit, we must focus on the things we can control and influence. Too often people do not realize, or they forget, that fate does not have complete control over their vitiligo.
Vitiligo is a chronic, lifelong condition. Once it is triggered it usually lingers for decades. While the condition itself may not be completely curable, that does not mean that you cannot take control of vitiligo and make positive changes in your appearance and your life.
Vitiligo: A day in Lee Thomas' shoes
The main things that we all have control over include:
1. Exposure to environmental allergens. Pollution and other environmental irritants such as perfumes and personal care products can affect the onset and progression of vitiligo. Cosmetics can help cover vitiligo spots but they can also irritate the skin and work against your skin healing. Things considered to be “common” allergens may trigger vitiligo flares. Once you know your triggers, avoidance whenever possible is the key.
2. Diet - the foods we eat. Many people do not realize that food “allergies” can be the cause of vitiligo onset and spread. This aspect needs to be investigated so that you can know what to avoid as you work to control your vitiligo.
3. Stress has been shown to affect vitiligo, especially in adults. Stress-lowering activities such as exercise, yoga, or meditation can all help decrease your amount of vitiligo. In taking care of yourself you must include stress-reducing activities in your life.
4. Treatments we choose. This is a very large and important category. There are steroid creams and other types of ointments available to help with vitiligo. Many practitioners will suggest UV light treatment to help re-pigment the skin. Certain vitamins, minerals, and herbal supplements can help decrease the amount of vitiligo on your skin and avoid its recurrence. When repigmentation does not occur, some people will choose to lighten their skin with special medications. Tatooing of the affected areas can also be appropriate when other treatments fail.
If you think you have vitiligo, it is very important that you consult with your doctor as soon as possible to confirm your suspicion. Sometimes vitiligo is caused by another health condition that requires treatment, so it is very important that you see a doctor to get an accurate diagnosis.
Read on for more information in how to change your life by taking control over vitiligo. Don’t let it control you!