Is It Safe to Treat Vitiligo in the Winter?
Occasionally there are treatments that should be done based on the season due to the healing process, such as not being able to be in the sun after treatment. With vitiligo, it is safe to treat during all seasons, but especially in the winter, as the sun in the summer may often be a cause of vitiligo. The dermatologists at Dermatology & Mohs Surgery Institute share more about what vitiligo is, how to treat it and how they are experts in diagnosing the condition.
What to Know About Treating Vitiligo
What Is Vitiligo?
Vitiligo causes the skin to lose its natural pigmentation. It results in white spots appearing on the skin. Some may develop white spots in small areas of their skin, and others may develop it all over their body. Melanin gives the skin its color, but when vitiligo occurs, it is because melanin has died or stopped functioning. Vitiligo can be caused by an autoimmune disorder, stress, sunburn, skin trauma or can simply be hereditary. Vitiligo is not contagious, but when signs of it appear, a dermatologist should be consulted immediately. A dermatologist can help determine the cause of the vitiligo and provide different vitiligo treatment options.
When you see a dermatologist about your vitiligo they will do a skin biopsy, blood tests, and examine your skin. Next, they will determine the best treatment option. It is important to note that treatments will help restore skin tone but doesn’t stop vitiligo from reoccurring. Common treatments include medications, light-based therapies, or surgery.
Medications to Treat Vitiligo
Medications to treat vitiligo will either help control inflammation or directly affect the immune system. To control inflammation, a corticosteroid cream may be used. It is best used on vitiligo that has just started appearing. Medications affecting the immune system may include Protopic or Elidel and are best for smaller areas affected by vitiligo.
Light Therapy to Treat Vitiligo
Light therapy such as phototherapy is a common treatment for vitiligo patients. The patient is exposed to ultraviolet lights that target the lost pigment. Treatment is especially effective when used in conjunction with corticosteroids. Treatments will be done up to three times per week, and it can take up to three months for any change to be noticed.
Combining psoralen and light therapy is another treatment option. Psoralen is an oral tablet that helps to return the color to the skin. Your skin is then exposed to ultraviolet light. XTRAC is another form of light therapy that can be used. XTRAC is a laser that delivers a targeted beam of UVB light to the depigmented skin. Treatment takes only 10 minutes. Lastly, depigmentation can be used for widespread vitiligo or if other treatments haven’t worked. A depigmenting agent is applied to the areas of the skin that do not have vitiligo. The agent lightens the skin to blend with the vitiligo-affected areas.
Surgery to Treat Vitiligo
Surgery such as skin grafting, or blister grafting have been successful in treating vitiligo but should be used after first trying medications and light therapies. During skin grafting, small sections of healthy skin are transferred to the areas that lost pigment. With blister grafting, a doctor will create blisters on the healthy skin and transplant them onto the discolored skin.
There are many different treatment options if you are affected by vitiligo and can feel confident that there are ways to bring your skin color back. If you are showing signs or symptoms of vitiligo, the dermatologists at Dermatology & Mohs Surgery Institute can help. If you are in Bloomington, Illinois, or the surrounding areas, complete this form, and we will be in touch.