Tuesday, March 24, 2015

How to deal with vitiligo

Vitiligo is blotchy loss of skin color--I think Michael Jackson suffered from it. Anyone can get it, but it is more noticeable with darker skin tone.

It is not contagious or harmful but can affect appearance and sense of well-being.

It starts with small areas of light or white skin--often in areas exposed to the sun. Sometimes this does not spread and sometimes it does. Hair and eye changes can also occur.

This occurs when melanocytes--the cells that produce melanin pigment--die or stop producing melanin.

This is thought to be an autoimmune thing--the body turning on itself.

It can run in families and may be set off by a severe sunburn.

According to Alicia Cool, MD, Advanced Dermatology in Albertson NY, vitiligo is treated by several methods.

--Topical steroid creams--best when used early on.

--Topical immunosuppressant ointments--best for small areas of it.

--Ultraviolet A (UVA) in combination with a med call psoralen. This is used when depigmentation is over 20% of the body.

--Narrow-band ultraviolet B (UVB)--No psoralen.

--Eximer laser--for small areas.

--Depigmentation--Used when the disorder is very widespread or if other things fail. A med is applied to the skin over a long period--lightening all the skin.

There are other methods, too... Consult your dermatologist.

Bottom line--It may be unsightly or disturbing but does not threaten your health.

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