Vitiligo Treatments Explored
Vitiligo is a hereditary condition that is incredibly common; in fact, it is estimated to affect up to 140 million people worldwide. It is not restricted to one segment of the population, but can develop at any age from childhood through to adulthood and it affects men and women equally of any colour.
What is most important to understand is that, just as there is no known cause for vitiligo, there is no cure for this condition. However, it can be managed and treated and here we explore some of the vitiligo treatment options:
Topical corticosteroids; this type of inflammatory cream or gel is known to restore pigment for some patients and it can sometimes stop the spread of vitiligo, but the side effects when used over a long period of time include thinning of the skin, visible blood vessels appearing, acne and the development of stretch marks.
Topical preparations; a medicine commonly used to treat eczema, called calcineurin inhibitors, has been known to restore pigment in some cases. It doesn’t have the same side effects of corticosteroids, but can cause facial flushing, skin irritation and increased sensitivity to the sun.
Phototherapy; an artificial ultraviolet light is applied to the areas of vitiligo and, over time, some patients see a degree of repigmentation. The treatment is quite involved and it is less successful on areas such as the fingertips and the lips.
Laser treatments; for small, stable areas of vitiligo some patients have achieved repigmentation using an excimer laser.
Surgical grafting; small areas of normal pigmented skin can be transferred to vitiligo-affected areas. Skin grafting is a potential treatment if your vitiligo is considered stable with no new white patches appearing and no changes to your existing patches in the last year or so. There is the possibility of scarring.
Melanocyte transplantation; this is a unique approach to the treatment of vitiligo. Dr Sanjeev V Mulekar, considered a leader in the treatment of this condition, has been successfully treating vitiligo sufferers with this unique procedure.
Skin is taken from a healthy donor site and the epidermal cells that contain melanocytes, which give the skin its colour, are separated and then sprayed onto the depigmented skin. Over a period of time you’ll see a process of repigmentation. For larger areas, or if the repigmentation isn’t complete, it is possible to have follow-up treatments.
To learn more about the different treatment options, including the innovative Melanocyte Transplantation call 020 7224 2247 to speak to one of the team. Dr Mulekar joins us in June 2015, but any questions can be directed to Dr Mulekar in advance.