It may begin with a loss of coloring inside of the mouth or in the genital area, a change of color in the eyeball, or even a whitening of your eyelashes, eyebrows or beard.
Then you begin to notice white patches of skin appearing on your arms, legs or other parts of the body. Before you know it your skin begins to take on a splotchy bleached look. You are losing your coloring and you don’t know why.
Vitiligo (the loss of skin pigment) is a condition which results when the cells of the skin stop producing pigment, or coloring. This leaves the skin with unsightly white patches that seem to grow bigger by the day. For darker skinned people this loss of coloring can leave them feeling disfigured.
According to the Mayo Clinic, as many as 60 million people worldwide may suffer with the effects of Vitiligo. It may affect one small part of the body, or cover the entire skin.
Its symptoms, say doctors, are most visible in the armpits, navel, genitals and rectum during the earliest stages of the disease, eventually spreading to other parts of the body and skin.
Traditionally, people with Vitiligo have experienced white patches on their skin that seem to grow. Others report a whitening of body hair as early as age 20 and a loss of coloring inside of the mouth and eyeball.
While not life threatening, the loss of coloring for many people can be alarming. Unfortunately, many of the traditional treatments used to help ‘cure’ Vitiligo often cause more severe color stripping and damage to the skin.
Topical Psoralen Plus Ultraviolet (PUVA)
This may be the most common way to treat Vitiligo, PUVA requires covering the skin with a chemical concoction that makes it ultra-sensitive to light. Then the affected area is exposed to high levels of UVA radiation which burns the skin, turning the white patches pink. As the skin heals, darker pigment from the scarring appears.
However, the complications of this therapy can be serious. Many patients have reported a thinning of the skin after PUVA therapy as well as sunburn-like damage. Skin cancer is another risk, considering the high doses of UVA radiation the skin undergoes during treatment.
Used to help restore pigment to the skin, this potent drug comes with some severe side effects including:
- A sensitivity to the sun
- Skin cancer
Available both orally and topically, Methoxsalen needs to be taken exactly as prescribed since complications form the medication could be dangerous. They include:
- Skin cancer
Commonly used in the early stages of Vitiligo, corticosteroids are used topically for several months to help restore skin pigmentation. Although some people have found the medication helpful, the side effects are not worth the minimal relief found.
In addition to sensitivity to light and a recurrence of the Vitiligo once the medication is stopped, corticosteroids may result in the following:
- Thinning of the skin: as the layers of the skin thin from the treatment, infection becomes more common which can lead to some serious (or even life threatening) medical issues.
- Stretch marks
- Skin striping
A derivative of vitamin D, Dovonex can cause a serious allergic reaction as well as severe burning of the skin, itching, rashes, a worsening of Vitiligo whitening and peeling of the affected skin.
Although several medical treatments are available to the Vitiligo sufferer, the fact that what is considered the best treatment options often come with serious side effects that can harm your skin and your health.
Most doctors advise their patients to consider the risks carefully before taking any medication or undergoing nay skin changing procedure.
If you are really looking for a solution to your vitiligo, the cure should address the internal causes of vitiligo by tackling all the factors that contribute to vitiligo.
A natural cure is a good approach but only by controlling the nutritional, hormonal, psychological and environmental triggers of vitiligo using a multidimensional and holistic approach to healing one can make amends to the reasons why one has vitiligo.
Treating Vitiligo holistically requires a bit more than a few simple fixes. It requires a multi- pronged approach to healing that deals with all facets of the body and finding ways to heal the skin in a more natural and long lasting manner.