Before we go into vitiligo treatments, let’s find out about the myths of vitiligo treatment.
Myths about vitiligo treatment
Treatment of vitiligo is impossible
This is not at all true. With the right treatment often, most of the patients achieved good results.
Oral Psoralens are toxic
This is not true. Psoralens form the basis of some vitiligo treatments and it is not toxic to the liver.
Psoralens +UVA can cause cancer of the skin
Psoralens +UVA (PUVA), which is used for treatment of vitiligo does not cause cancer of the skin.
Vitiligo treatment options
There are different treatment options available for vitiligo. Sunscreens, cover-up, bleaching of skin using topical creams and restoration of normal skin color are some of the treatment options available for vitiligo treatment.
Sunscreen treatments want to protect unpigmented involved skin from sunburn. It also wants to limit the tanning of pigmented normal skin. SPF or the sun protection factor which is used in the treatment of vitiligo should not be less than SPF 30. It blocks erythema. SPF 30 also blocks the possible effect of sunlight on the skin DNA.
Cover up is done with dyes or make-up. It wants to hide the white macules which make vitiligo less visible to other people. Some other patients also use self tanning lotions and camouflages.
Restoring normal skin color
In this treatment option, treatment is done to restore the normal skin color. Spot treatments or whole body treatments are done for restoration of normal skin color.
Spot treatment using topical corticosteroid creams
Topical corticosteroid creams are used for such treatments. It’s a practical and simple treatment option and it is safe. The effect is generally seen within two months. If the effect is not seen within two months, then it is not effective. Your physician should monitor the response.
Spot treatment using topical Oxsoralen
Topical Oxsoralen is used for treatment of vitiligo. It is a complicated treatment option. Oxsoralen is highly photo toxic and so will cause sunburn if you are exposed to the sun rays. The photo toxicity may last for three days or more. You need an experienced physician to use this kind of treatment option. It should only be used for small spots.
Spot treatment using mini grafting
Mini grafting is another treatment option in case of vitiligo. In this treatment, transplantation of the normal skin of the patient is done to vitiligo affected areas. In case of refractory segmental vitiligo macules, this is a useful technique. Once the procedure is done, PUVA is needed to match the color between the graft sites.
Whole body treatment
A whole body treatment option is also available for patients suffering from vitiligo. PUVA photo chemotherapy is used which combines oral psoralens and UVA irradiation. It can be done in two ways-using sunlight and trimethylpsoralen (Trisoralen) or artificially UVA and Trisoralen or Oxsoralen-Ultra. This is a treatment option that should be handled by experienced physicians only. In general, PUVA is about 85% effective. It is effective in case of 70% of the patients who suffer from vitiligo.
However, there are some risks involved in treatment of vitiligo using PUVA. The patient may suffer from last year, sunburn, acute dryness, GI upset and hyper pigmentation. This is a treatment that should not be used in case of children under the age of 10. As a patient, it is important to understand the risks and benefits of this treatment options before you go for it.
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