What is Vitiligo?
Vitiligo is a condition in which patches or discoloration of the skin appears when the melanocytes in the skin die. Melanocytes are the cells responsible for producing the skin pigment, melanin, which gives skin its color and protects the skin from ultraviolet rays. Vitiligo can affect anyone of any age group, gender, or ethnic group.
The total area of skin that can be affected by vitiligo varies from person to person. Even vitiligo can also affect the eyes, the inside of the mouth, and also the hair. Areas of skin with vitiligo will be more sensitive to the sun than normal skin areas.
What is the best treatment for vitiligo?
There are several things that can help reduce the appearance of vitiligo, namely:
Use of sunscreen
The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends wearing sunscreen. Areas of skin that have vitiligo will usually be more sensitive to sunlight, so they are more prone to burning.
Phototherapy with UVB rays
Exposure to ultraviolet B (UVB) light is a common treatment option for people with vitiligo. Home care requires a small light that allows for everyday use. While treatment carried out at the clinic requires 2 to 3 visits a week, and treatment will usually take longer.
UVB phototherapy in combination with other treatments can have a positive effect on vitiligo disease. However, the results are unpredictable, because until now there is no treatment for vitiligo that can make skin pigmentation return to normal.
Phototherapy with UVA rays
Treatment with UVA rays is usually done in a health facility. Patients will first be advised to take drugs that can increase the skin’s sensitivity to UV rays. Then, the skin will be exposed to high doses of UVA light. Changes may be seen after 6–12 months with two treatment sessions a week.
Treatment with corticosteroid ointment
Corticosteroid ointment is a cream that contains steroids. Some studies have concluded that applying corticosteroid ointment to white patches in cases of vitiligo, can stop the spread of the patches. While some other cases report a complete recovery and the skin returns to its original color. However, corticosteroids should not be used on the facial area.
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When the area of the patch extends, to cover 50 percent of the body area or more, depigmentation can be an option. Depigmentation treatments can lighten skin color in areas that are not affected by vitiligo disease, so that the skin color of the area will be the same as the area affected by vitiligo.
However, depigmentation can make the skin more fragile. Prolonged exposure to sunlight should be avoided.