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Vitiligo: Finding Results Through Light Therapy

Vitiligo is a life-altering condition that can leave people feeling insecure and not like themselves. At Dermatology & Mohs Surgery Institute, we can diagnose vitiligo and assist in providing a successful treatment plan. Let’s take a look at some of the common symptoms and treatment options for this condition.


Symptoms of Vitiligo

Vitiligo is a medical skin condition where the skin loses its natural pigmentation. It happens when the body begins to attack cells that give our skin, hair, and other areas color. Called melanocytes, these cells live in the skin, hair, lips, eyes, and other places. When attacked, the result is often white spots appearing on the skin. Some people may develop only a few spots, and others may develop extensive spotting. These spots can appear on the knees, elbows, and other body parts, and can even cause eyes to lose their color or hair to turn white.

The cause of vitiligo is unknown. Though the condition is not contagious, it’s important to have the skin examined in order to find a treatment option and ensure that it’s not something more dangerous.


Vitiligo Treatment

Those with vitiligo may be at risk for other medical conditions, which is why it is important to get in contact with a dermatologist immediately after noticing the signs. Some people with vitiligo develop problems with their vision. Other symptoms can include abnormal tear production, autoimmune diseases, and/or anxiety and depression.

A variety of treatments are available that can restore lost skin color, including medications, sunscreen, light therapies, and surgeries.

Light therapy treatments are especially successful in helping return color to the light patches produced by vitiligo. During light therapy treatments, psoralen is taken orally or applied topically before the affected skin is exposed to ultraviolet A, UVB, or excimer light. These treatments may need to be repeated up to three times per week for six months to one year.

Corticosteroid cream and other creams that control inflammation can help return color to the skin, especially if administered early on.

Depigmentation is another kind of therapy that helps remove the remaining color in the skin. It is best suited when vitiligo is widespread and other treatments have already been attempted. A depigmenting agent is applied to unaffected areas, gradually lightening the skin so it blends with the discolored areas. It is applied up to two times per day for at least nine months.

If medication and light therapy do not work, surgical options include skin grafting, blister grafting, or tattooing. During skin grafting, small sections of normal skin are attached to areas that have lost pigment. With blister grafting, blisters are created on the pigmented skin. The top of the blister is removed and transplanted to an area of discolored skin. Finally, tattooing involves implanting pigment into the skin. This treatment is most effective in or around the lips and on those with a darker complexion.


Contact us

Vitiligo may be a lifelong condition, but with the help of light therapy and other treatments, there are many options to help reduce its appearance. If you are in Bloomington, Illinois or the surrounding areas and are looking for a diagnosis or treatment plan for vitiligo, get in touch with the dermatologists at Dermatology & Mohs Surgery Institute. We’re happy to help you find the best solution possible.

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