Vitiligo is defined as a condition in which white patches appear on the skin. They may appear in irregular shapes on one particular area of the body, on one side of the body or on various parts all over the body. They are most common on the hands, feet, arms, face and other sun exposed areas. The condition may be particularly embarrassing, leading many patients to seek treatment.
Most skincare professionals recommend wearing sunscreen to protect the skin from the sun. While there is not thought to be a link between vitiligo and an increased risk for skin cancer, the white patches may be more prone to sunburn, which could lead to sun damage. Sunscreen is a great way to protect the skin from the sun's harmful rays. Patients should consult a skincare professional for a more accurate description of their own risk of sunburn, sun damage and skin cancer. Certain cosmetics may be used to cover up the white patches on the skin. A cosmetic expert may be helpful in matching a cosmetic to one's skin tone. Both sunscreen and cosmetics are inexpensive solutions to reducing the contrast between the normal skin and white patches on the skin.
Topical treatments such as corticosteroids may be effective in returning color to white patches on skin. Possible side effects such as thinning of the skin and streaks on the skin require the doctor to monitor the treatment. Ultraviolet light may be combined with certain topical treatments to turn the skin pink. As it heals, a more natural skin tone appears. Depigmentation is also an option for patients suffering from vitiligo. Patients with white patches on more than half of their skin may turn to depigmentation to create a more even skin tone consistent with the white patches on the skin. This may make the skin more sensitive to the sun's rays, however.
Skin grafting procedures have also been used. In one surgical treatment, normal colored skin is taken from other areas of the body and grafted on top of white patches of skin. This is used for patients who have smaller patches of vitiligo. Tattooing is also an option to restore color to the white patches of skin. This is most effective for patients with darker skin or those with white patches around the lips. Other treatments may also be available. To learn more, consult a skincare professional at a reputable clinic in your area.