Vitiligo is difficult to treat. Early treatment options include the following:
- Light therapy (exposure to controlled intense ultraviolet light in a doctor’s office or hospital)
- Medicines taken by mouth such as trimethylpsoralen (Trisoralen)
- Medicines applied to the skin such as:
- Corticosteroid creams
- Immunosuppressants such as pimecrolimus (Elidel) and tacrolimus (Protopic)
- Repigmenting agents such as methoxsalen (Oxsoralen)
Skin may be grafted or removed from normal areas and placed onto areas of pigment loss.
Several manufacturers produce cover-up makeup or skin dyes to mask vitiligo. Ask your health care provider for the names of these companies.
In extreme cases when most of the body is affected, the remaining pigmented skin may be depigmented. This is a permanent change and is a last resort.
It is important to remember that skin without pigment is extremely susceptible to the sun’s damaging effects. Be sure to apply a high-SPF sunblock and use appropriate safeguards against sun exposure.
- American Vitiligo Research Foundation — www.avrf.org
- National Vitiligo Foundation — www.nvfi.org
- VitiligoSupport.com — www.vitiligosupport.org
The course of vitiligo varies. Some areas may regain pigmentation (coloring), but other new areas may appear. Loss of pigment may be progressive.
Depigmented areas are more likely to sunburn or develop certain skin cancers.
Calling Your Health Care Provider
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you develop areas of skin that lose their coloring.
Pictures & ImagesVitiligo
Vitiligo is a condition which involves complete loss of melanin, the primary skin pigment. The cause of vitiligo is unknown but it appears to be an acquired condition and may appear at any age. The resulting lesions are white in comparison to the surrounding skin. Vitiligo may occur in the same areas on both sides of the face or it may be patchy. The typical vitiligo lesion is flat and depigmented, but maintains the normal skin texture.
Review Date : 9/24/2008
Reviewed By : Benjamin Medoff, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Pulmonary and Critical Care Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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