Vitiligo is a long term skin condition which is characterized by patches of skin losing their pigment. The patches of the affected skin become white and usually have sharp margins. The hair from the skin may also become white.The extent and rate of color loss from vitiligo is unpredictable. Skin inside the mouth and nose may also be involved. Typically both sides of the body are affected. Often the patches begin on areas of skin that are exposed to the sun. It is more noticeable in people with dark skin. Vitiligo may result in psychological stress and those affected may be stigmatized.
The cause is typically unknown. It is believed to be due to genetic susceptibility that is triggered by an environmental factor such that an autoimmune disease occurs. This results in the destruction of skin pigment cells.
Normally, the color of hair, skin and eyes is determined by melanin. Vitiligo occurs when the cells that produce melanin die or stop functioning.
Vitiligo affects people of all skin types, but it may be more noticeable in people with darker skin. The condition is not life-threatening or contagious.
Vitiligo may result in psychological stress and those affected may be stigmatized.
The excimer laser (308 nanometer wavelength) is used with this therapy, and only the areas of skin affected by vitiligo receive the laser energy. Dermatologists can tell within the first four weeks of treatment whether or not the therapy is working.
Narrow-band UVB therapy (TLO1) is used for treating vitiligo among many other skin disorders. Light therapy is the go to method of treatment for vitiligo that covers more than 20% of the body. The best results with this process are achieved on the face, trunk and limbs.
Combined Light Therapy and Medication
This vitiligo treatment, known as PUVA, combines a drug called psoralen with light therapy (photochemotherapy) in the form of either UVA or UVB light. The drug is taken orally or applied to the affected skin before light therapy is then administered. Psoralen makes skin more sensitive to the light, so at the end of this procedure the skin turns pink. When the skin heals, a normal skin colour appears.
With repeated treatments, good results in repigmenting vitiligo can be achieved with this method. You may need to visit the clinic up to three times a week for six to 12 months to see best results.To achieve a balanced, natural skin tone, it can help to frequently apply sunscreen for one to two days after each treatment. You should also wear UV-protective sunglasses and avoid direct sunlight.