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Vitiligo Treatments

Treatment

There is no known cure for vitiligo. Often, the longer the patches exist, the harder it is to repigment the area. Treatment is geared to decreasing the appearance of patches by:

  • Repigmentation—replace skin color in patches
  • Slowing loss of color
  • Decreasing difference between affected and unaffected skin
This may be done by:

PUVA (Psoralen plus UVA) and Narrow Band UVB (nbUVB)

PUVA used to be the most common type of repigmentation. Now it is being largely replaced by narrow band UVB (nbUVB). You apply a psoralen cream or take a psoralen medication orally. You then expose yourself to UV light A (UV-A) from the sun or an artificial source. The medicine is activated by UV-A. It may repigment white patches. This treatment takes months and can cause sunburn-type reactions. It may also cause nausea and increased risk of skin cancer .

Excimer Laser

This is a special UV laser. It is shown to be effective in localized cases.

Skin Creams

  • Corticosteroid skin creams—can sometimes slow the loss of color. It may also help return color to small areas. They may also cause thinning of the skin.
  • Tacrolimus or pimecrolimus skin creams—can sometimes slow the loss of color. They can help return color to small areas. They may also cause thinning of the skin.
  • Skin grafting —done if the condition is not widespread and stable. It may be possible to graft areas of normal pigmentation to the patches.

Skin Graft

Skin Graft
© 2009 Nucleus Medical Art, Inc.

Depigmentation

This involves removing the remaining pigment from your normal skin. This treatment makes your whole body the same white color. It is only done if you have already lost a large amount of your normal skin color and repigmentation has not been successful. The medicine used is called monobenzyl ether of hydroquinone 20%. This treatment takes about one year to complete. It can cause side effects, such as redness and swelling of your skin.

Cosmetics

You can make your white patches less noticeable. Makeup, dyes, stains, or self-tanning lotions can work as a cover. However, the color from dyes, stains, and lotions slowly wears off.

Sunscreen

The purpose of sunscreen is to:

  • Protect the depigmented area from the damaging effects of sun exposure
  • Prevent increased pigmentation (tanning) of other areas, which will greatly accentuate the vitiligo

Depigmented areas are at much higher risk for skin cancer.

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright © 2019 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.

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