Vitiligo, also known as leukoderma, is a condition that affects about two percent of the population. While this disease usually beings in the hands and face, it usually begins to spread to other areas of the body, even to the scalp and eyebrows. Doctor’s still haven’t discovered a way to cure vitiligo.
Although science hasn’t eliminated vitiligo, they have been able to identify some key factors that may contribute to its outbreak. The first factor is genetics and, unfortunately, there’s not much you can do about it. You will need to be on high alert if vitiligo runs in your family tree.
Good news on the second factor, you can control your lifestyle and diet. Leading an unhealthy lifestyle with plenty of stress, pollution and a poor diet then your vitiligo will suffer. Check out this article for more information on lifestyle impact on vitiligo.
There are creams that you can put on the affected areas to help with the irritation. Both creams are available with a doctor’s prescription and they treat the vitiligo in different manners. One is a topical corticosteroids and the seconde is phenytoin. Phenytoin treats the premature breakdown of the melacytes.
Topical corticosteroids work to prevent inflammation of the skin. While that doesn’t cure the vitiligo, it does help with the severity of the condition. The less that the skin is inflamed, the less severe the outbreak of vitiligo. These creams aren’t an instant cure, they need to be applied for a period of time for them to work. Also, corticosteroids work best on small patches of outbreaks. If you have your whole leg with an outbreak then a topical corticosteroids won’t have much of an effect. However, if you have a small area on your hand, then you might be able to halt the progression. Topical corticosteroids are a good first choice at combating vitiligo. They are relatively inexpensive, have virtually no side effects and they have a long shelf life.
Phenytoin, on the other hand, tries to attack vitiligo from a different perspective. Phenytoin tries to stop the death of the melaocytes. These skin cells are responsible for producing the pigment of the skin. When these cells die then a person loses the pigmentation in that area and you get the familiar characteristics of vitiligo.
This is very exciting, cutting edge research. Researchers from the University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Romania have been the lead in this research and they’ve been able to formulate phenytoin into a get that gets applied to the skin. These researchers have determined that, for maximum results, a high concentration of phenytoin is necessary. It must be noted that this product is still in research and development but phenytoin does contain much promise.
While phenytoin is new and cutting edge, the third vitiligo cream has been around for awhile. Psoralen is used alongside with UV therapy. This is the approach that many dermatologists have used. Psoralen attempts to control the outbreak much like a topical corticosteroid would. Long term, we can envision a multipronged approach of diet and lifestyle change, phenytoin for long term melaocytes health and psoralen/UV therapy for treatment of current outbreaks.