Vitiligo is an uncommon skin condition that affects the pigmentation in a person’s skin. Dermatologists are armed with extensive knowledge and experience in diagnosing and treating vitiligo, and they are more than willing to share it with you as you explore your options.
Here’s what we know about vitiligo, from its potential causes to how it can impact a person’s self esteem. Vitiligo is believed to be caused by nervous and immune system issues. Non-segmental vitiligo may be the result of the body’s immune system mistaking melanocytes for foreign invaders. Melanocytes are the cells contained within skin that are responsible for its color. They create melanin, which maintains a skin’s proper pigmentation. When the immune system attacks these cells, they die off and skin loses all color, becoming a pale white. Segmental vitiligo is likely the result of issues stemming from the body’s immune system, but even less is understood when it comes to segmental vitiligo. Non-segmental vitiligo is far more common, and the patches of colorless skin occur symmetrically with this condition. That means that the vitiligo appears on both halves of your body in the same area. Segmental vitiligo is loss of color in one area, without symmetry. In very, very rare instances, complete vitiligo can occur. With complete vitiligo, all color is lost. Vitiligo affects the hair just as it does the skin, meaning that if it’s on the scalp, a person’s hair can turn white. Vitiligo is generally harmless beyond its ability to impact your self-confidence. Like with any cosmetic skin condition, your mental health can be dealt the biggest blow by vitiligo.
There are a few options out there for treating vitiligo, and what we recommend depends on the size, location, and type of vitiligo. If you suspect you have vitiligo, your doctor can confirm this with an in-person assessment. They may recommend a blood test to determine whether you may have a thyroid issue that could be contributing to vitiligo. In some instances, thyroid disease is to blame for vitiligo and treating the condition can restore your skin’s natural color.
The simplest vitiligo treatment is to simply cover it up. Dermatologists and people coping with vitiligo can show you ways to camouflage vitiligo using cosmetic products like makeup. This is the safest way to reckon with vitiligo, and it’s often recommended for children or people who have reacted negatively to other treatments.
Light therapy is an effective way to manage vitiligo for many people. Depending on how large the pigmentless spots of skin are, a light box or device will be used to expose skin to UV radiation. This light therapy can help encourage weakened melanocytes to produce more melanin. If your vitiligo is fairly small and localized, laser treatment can work better. Due to its precision, a laser is much more safe and quick to administer if you’re a good candidate. After light therapy, the treated area may be darker than the surrounding skin, but it will eventually lighten to match it. Light therapy treatments must be administered more than once to maintain results, but they can last for several months between treatments.
Finally, medication may be your best bet for treating vitiligo. The first option is a corticosteroid, which is applied topically to the skin. This drug is designed to encourage weakened cells to kick into high gear and produce melanin. As with other treatments, medication will need to become a part of your life for the long haul. Because vitiligo very rarely goes away, you’re going to need to keep combating whatever reaction your body has to melanocytes.
Regardless of how experienced in vitiligo you are, the professionals at your dermatologist’s office are ready and eager to offer their help and advice. If you’re struggling with vitiligo, make the call to the dependable experts at Northeast Dermatology Associates.
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