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The Vitiligo Treatments

Updated on December 6, 2012

Vitiligo is a fairly common skin disorder that results in white patches on the skin of the patient. It is common knowledge that this skin disorder does not discriminate on grounds of age, social standing in the society, gender, skin color or creed; everyone can get affected. It is therefore wise to equip oneself with the necessary information on the available treatments such as UVB therapy for Vitiligo.

Another treatment that is used is removing the pigment from your skin.

The most important element in our skin that gives it its color is melanin. Melanin is produced by melanocytes. These melanocytes are so important in the production of melanin such that if their activity is interfered with, then the skin will slowly develop spots that are usually ugly on the patient’s skin.

The destruction of melanocytes can be triggered by several reasons. Whatever the reason, their destruction usually result in this skin condition called Vitiligo. One of the commonest argument on this case speculate that the destruction of melanocytes is brought about as a result of autoimmune activities of the white blood cells that are responsible in guarding the body against foreign bodies and organisms such as germs and viruses.

Melanocytes are therefore regarded as dangerous to the body by the body’s immune system. This is usually as a default response on the side of white blood cells. In this way, the immune system erroneously perceives melanocytes as potentially harmful and dangerous elements in the body. This triggers an autoimmune response that destroys melanocytes by way of antibodies that attack melanocytes to their death if no action is taken. Once melanocytes die off, production of melanin stops and at the initial stages, the appearance of small white patches on the surface of the skin ensues. If this continues, then the spots will continue increasing both in size and number. This will mark the onset and spreading of Vitiligo.

Vitiligo therefore results after the melanocytes have been destroyed and production of melanin has ceased. This results in the skin losing its pigment and therefore development of the patches which are the usual manifestation of Vitiligo. The patches are more manifest in darker skin complexion and are whiter and whiter towards the inside of the round spots formed on the surface of the skin.

The white, round spots formed in a Vitiligo case are usually recognizable and have crucial and characteristically unique aspects and appearance to the condition. The most important of this all is the whitening of the hair on the affected areas. If you notice that the hair on the inside of the spots is also white, then you automatically and concretely deduce that you are talking about a definite Vitiligo case. The hair color is also dependent on the availability of the melanin and will also turn white if its production has ceased.

In as much as this skin condition is neither itchy nor painful and has no any physical symptom, it may result in social stress as well as reduction in the patient’s self-esteem. This is due to the fact that is in human nature to be perceived good and attractive by others. Vitiligo and skin infections are detrimental to the self ego and social interactions may be difficult. Some people may suffer from social stigma associated with certain disorders or discriminations on the basis that others may think your condition as being contagious and therefore avoid you altogether.

Vitiligo in spite of its being non-contagious can spread to other parts of the body from where it started. The condition usually starts being visible on the limbs, face, neck as well as the back. From these areas, Vitiligo then proceeds to attack the other parts of the body and if no action is taken, it can develop to attack all the skin on the human body. This is unsightly true.

It should further be noted that Vitiligo spreads and attacks different people at different rates. Some cases of Vitiligo spread faster while in some people, years may pass without developing further patches from the initial attacks. Every Vitiligo case is therefore different from the other and unique to the patient. Vitiligo treatments should therefore be sought with this information on the background.

There are two broad categories of Vitiligo depending on the area and degree of its attack on the skin of the patient. The two broad categories are denoted by these two terms;

Generalized and localized Vitiligo categories

Generalized Vitiligo category denotes those cases as discussed below;

· When Vitiligo attacks only the most susceptible areas such as limbs, face, head and neck, it is usually in the generalized category of the condition usually referred to as acrofacial Vitiligo.

· This may continue to spread and attack the better part of the skin surface of the body. When this happens and Vitiligo is almost on the entire skin surface of the body, then this is called universal Vitiligo; still in the generalized category.

· Vitiligo Vulgaris on the other hand is a generalized Vitiligo case that refers to white patches dispersed across the entire body.

· If the generalized category of Vitiligo is characterized by a mixture of acrofacial and vulgaris types of Vitiligo, then this is referred to as mixed Vitiligo.

Localized category of Vitiligo, as the category name describes attacks only a small portion of the skin. This is characterized by the following;

· A case in which the condition affects and confines itself on a very small area of the skin is in the localized category and usually referred to as focal Vitiligo. In as much as this may be an indication of the onset of a Vitiligo case, it may remain so for long and therefore many patients may not see a need for Vitiligo treatments. Most people with this condition usually resort to using creams and other skin tanning methods to hide the white patches in this category. They may also be covered by the clothes and therefore present no urgent attention.

· It is a common characteristic that Vitiligo will usually affect the body in symmetrical manner. This means that if you happen to develop Vitiligo spots on the left hand, you are also likely to experience the same on your right hand. However, sometimes this is not the case. If then the spots are asymmetrical, this is referred to as segmental Vitiligo. Affecting only one side of the body. Segmental Vitiligo is more common to children than to other individuals.

· Another common localized case of Vitiligo is called mucosal Vitiligo. This happens when only the mucus parts of the body are affected.

Generalized as well as localized Vitiligo cases are both common and there is no guarantee that localized type will not develop into generalized Vitiligo. It is therefore important to decide as early as possible and seek depigmentation and Vitiligo therapy in general.

In as much as there is no physical symptoms of Vitiligo, there are obvious and visible manifestations of this skin condition. Among the most notable is the appearance of white spots on the affected skin areas. These spots enlarge with time and merge with more spots to become bigger round spots. This is brought about by the loss of pigmentation on the skin.

It has been said earlier that the most obvious and factual manifestation of Vitiligo is the turning white of the hair on the affected part. However, one should be careful to note that it is difficult for this sign to manifest itself due to the fact that the affected area may not necessarily have body hair. This is much so if the spots appear on your back where the hair is not available or less visible.

It is important to have concrete information on the causes of the condition. Different hypotheses have been advanced to explain what causes Vitiligo. These causes have been discussed in the following points.

Causes of Vitiligo

Depigmentation and Vitiligo therapy to use in addressing this condition will depend on the most probable reason or cause behind the cropping up of the Vitiligo. There are several of them;

· In an event that melanocytes are defective, they will not be able to properly produce melanin and do so in normal levels to sustain skin pigmentation. Defective and faulty melanocytes is a theory that has been used to explain the emergence of Vitiligo cases across the human populations. The defects may be caused by dietary or mineral deficiencies. Particular vitamins have been singled out as possible deficiencies that may lead to defective melanocytes. Among the most important of them are the Vitamin D (sunshine vitamin and white patches), Vitamin B12 and folic acid.

It has been documented that repigmentation efforts that have also used these vitamin supplements have been more successful than those without. This is therefore a clear indication of the importance of these vitamins in the production of melanin and in remedial actions against defective melanocytes. The two vitamins in addition to other minerals provide good grounds on which the body can get rid of oxidative stress due to free radicals. This is a good ground that will also prevent the destruction and dying off of melanocytes.

· Human immune system is programmed to launch attacks against foreign bodies that may be deemed dangerous to the body. Sometimes the system may make mistakes and define good and beneficial cells in the body as harmful. This is followed by automatic attacks to the cells. This is called autoimmune mechanism. When this is directed to melanocytes, the resultant situation is a Vitiligo condition. It will therefore necessitate repigmentation and other remedial actions to counter this autoimmune mechanism and its disadvantages.

· Research has found that in an event of damaged nerves, Vitiligo can emerge. This damage may be caused by physical accidents or as a result of ailments.

· In our day to day activities, we usually come into contact with chemicals. Some chemical elements are known to cause Vitiligo albeit in varying degrees. It is therefore important to take precautionary measures when we are using or handling chemicals either on our farms or homes.

· Some genetic explanations have also been made on the causes of Vitiligo. It is certain that genes are the vehicles of heredity. It is argued that those individuals who have a Vitiligo case in their biological or hereditary history are more likely to develop the same than in those without this history. This is exemplified by the fact that it is possible to inherit defective genetic make-up in your melanocytes as well as a disposition to develop Vitiligo.

It is true that there are many theories as to what causes Vitiligo. However, these are the most significant and carry most weight. Whatever the reason behind any particular Vitiligo case, it is a known fact that melanin depletion is the single-most description that can be used to define it. The remedy for the same is therefore aimed at repigmentation as well as re-establishing melanin production.

Depigmentation and Vitiligo Therapy

As a result of depigmentation caused by Vitiligo, there are particular purposeful actions and efforts that are supposed to be taken and carried out. In this sense, depigmentation and Vitiligo therapy remedies are usually taken depending on the cause of the Vitiligo condition at hand.

As has been mentioned, depigmentation is the loss of skin pigment as a result of failure of the melanocytes to produce melanin that gives the skin its pigment. The actions taken against this situation is referred to as repigmentation. This is the stimulation of melanocytes to produce melanin.

Vitiligo treatments are possible. However, there are a few things that the patient and everyone else interested in curative measures of this condition should bear in mind or understand;

· That is usually takes time for all Vitiligo spots to disappear from the skin. This is usually in not less than two years.

· That the condition affects the patient’s social and emotional well-being as opposed to other skin conditions and infections. Therefore, the patient would need more moral support in the healing process. This should be done by reaching out to family and friends as well as other close people. These persons will be able to help the patient in dealing with the emotional stress that this condition may cause. Remember that the emotional stress may exacerbate the condition it is a known fact that stress is related to the worsening of this condition.

· That there are a number of remedies aimed at Vitiligo treatments. These treatment methods vary in their application and method. However, it is important to use more than one treatment method for better results. It is also good to make sure that you have discussed these options with your dermatologist or any other qualified professional before engaging treatment gear.

· That the methods and application of Vitiligo treatments are dependent on the particular patient. Best Vitiligo treatment options are dependent on the individual patient, the level and stage of the condition as well as the resources available at the disposal of the patient.

· That it is good to seek Vitiligo treatments as early as is practically possible.

With such background knowledge disseminated, it is good to examine some of the depigmentation and Vitiligo therapy methods that we current have. It is good to note that complete depigmentation and Vitiligo therapy is only possible with consistency and dedication from the side of the patient. Light therapy methods are most effective ways through which one can remedy depigmentation and Vitiligo in general.

There are two types of light therapies that can be used in the treatment of Vitiligo. The two involve the use of ultraviolet radiations. These are the UVA and UVB light therapies. In UVB therapy for Vitiligo, we have a narrower application of light called Narrow Band UVB. Here we will get to understand how these Vitiligo treatments operate.

Ultraviolet light basic source is the sunlight. It is a known fact that when we expose our skin to UV radiation, the conversion of cholesterol to vitamin D is optimized. The vitamin is important in the body and works to the advantage of the Vitiligo patients too. However, too much exposure to this light may lead to destruction of DNA and subsequent effects to melanocytes. It may also cause sunburn as well as skin cancer.

Initially, the use of UVA was the fancied in the of depigmentation and Vitiligo therapy. This process involved the application of UVA light and the use of Psoralen drug. The procedure was that a patient was administered with Psoralen orally. After two or three hours, then UVA radiation would be used to stimulate the drug into action. When the light was applied, then the sweating stage would be reached. The patient would therefore sweat the drug out through the skin and the drug residue would leave therapeutic matter on the skin. This would induce repigmentation. However, later research indicated that the drug has a lot of side effects ranging from chances of skin cancer, thinning of the skin to chances of increased sunburns.

In response to this, the application of UVB was encouraged and later improved. The procedure in the application of UVB as a remedy to Vitiligo infections is short and quick. It is similar to that of UVA but does not involve the use of Psoralen drug. In this way, it has more advantages over the use of UVA in depigmentation and Vitiligo therapy. These advantages are listed below;

· UVB therapy is simple, quick and short. It can therefore be done at home using easy to understand and use devices.

· The method is more effective than its predecessor. The results in this procedure are more manifest and take less time to notice.

· Due to the fact that UVB light therapy does not involve the use of any drug such as Psoralen, it therefore does not present side effects as it would have been the case with UVA method. This means that the method is safer and more efficient.

· Due to the success and advantages listed above, the method has overtaken UVA and is therefore the most preferred method of countering depigmentation and Vitiligo.

UVB light treatment for Vitiligo has undergone technological as well as application improvement. This has resulted in the use of narrow band UVB spectrum in the treatment of Vitiligo. The use of this narrower spectrum has meant that the technology has eliminated all the UVA radiation on its application. It also means that most of the UVB spectrum is also eliminated. The subsequent result is a more precise and specific wavelength that will have the best results and the least side effects.

The logic behind this technology in the treatment of Vitiligo is simple. First, the radiation, like all other UV radiations will suppress the immune system. Once this is done, more melanocytes will be available for the production of melanin.

Another very important way in which this will light will act as a depigmentation and Vitiligo therapy agent is through the stimulation of vitamin D production. It has been shown how and why this vitamin is important in Vitiligo healing process. It acts against autoimmune system, and works to the successful maturation of melanocytes.

Depigmentation and Vitiligo therapy also include the use of other technologies in this filed. The most notable and most effective is the use of excimer laser.

Conclusion

There are a number of causes and reasons that may lead to the development of Vitiligo spots on your body. These reasons are may be physical, genetic, chemical or immune mechanism-related. There is therefore every need for one to determine the possible cause of the depigmentation before seeking curative measures. This may be done with the help of your dermatologist or doctor.

Vitiligo treatments involve quite a number of procedures and processes. Light therapies, especially UVB therapy for Vitiligo are used in addressing depigmentation and Vitiligo disorders. Other technologies such as excimer laser are also effective. However, it is always important to use supplements in the treatment of this disorder. A good depigmentation and Vitiligo therapy will therefore involve the use of dietary as well as other natural supplements. A good curative procedure for treating this condition is therefore multi-directional and al encompassing.

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