Vitiligo- Other Treatment
Vitiligo is a long-term skin condition characterized by patches of the skin losing their pigment. The patches of skin affected become white and usually have sharp margins. The hair from the skin may also become white. The inside of the mouth and nose may also be involved. Typically both sides of the body are affected. Often the patches begin on areas of skin that are exposed to the sun. It is more noticeable in people with dark skin.Vitiligo may result in psychological stress and those affected may be stigmatized. The exact cause of vitiligo is unknown. It is believed to be due to genetic susceptibility that is triggered by an environmental factor such that an autoimmune disease occurs. This results in the destruction of skin pigment cells. Risk factors include a family history of the condition or other autoimmune diseases, such as hyperthyroidism, alopecia areata, and pernicious anemia. It is not contagious. Vitiligo is classified into two main types: segmental and non-segmental. Most cases are non-segmental, meaning they affect both sides; and in these cases, the affected area of the skin typically expands with time. About 10% of cases are segmental, meaning they mostly involve one side of the body; and in these cases, the affected area of the skin typically does not expand with time. Diagnosis can be confirmed by tissue biopsy. There is no known cure for vitiligo. For those with light skin, sunscreen and makeup are all that is typically recommended. Other treatment options may include steroid creams or phototherapy to darken the light patches. Alternatively, efforts to lighten the unaffected skin, such as with hydroquinone, may be tried. Several surgical options are available for those who do not improve with other measures. A combination of treatments generally has better outcomes. Counselling to provide emotional support may be useful.
There is no cure for vitiligo but several treatment options are available. The best evidence is for applied steroids and the combination of ultraviolet light in combination with creams. Due to the higher risks of skin cancer, the United Kingdom’s National Health Service suggests phototherapy be used only if primary treatments are ineffective. Lesions located on the hands, feet, and joints are the most difficult to repigment; those on the face are easiest to return to the natural skin color as the skin is thinner in nature.
1. Immune Mediators
Topical preparations of immune suppressing medications including glucocorticoids (such as 0.05% clobetasol or 0.10% betamethasone) and calcineurin inhibitors (such as tacrolimus or pimecrolimus) are considered to be first-line vitiligo treatments.
Phototherapy is considered a second-line treatment for vitiligo. Exposing the skin to light from UVB lamps is the most common treatment for vitiligo. The treatments can be done at home with an UVB lamp or in a clinic. The exposure time is managed so that the skin does not suffer overexposure. Treatment can take a few weeks if the spots are on the neck and face and if they existed not more than 3 years. If the spots are on the hands and legs and have been there more than 3 years, it can take a few months. Phototherapy sessions are done 2–3 times a week. Spots on a large area of the body may require full body treatment in a clinic or hospital. UVB broadband and narrowband lamps can be used, but narrowband ultraviolet picked around 311 nm is the choice. It has been constitutively reported that a combination of UVB phototherapy with other topical treatments improves re-pigmentation. However, some people with vitiligo may not see any changes to skin or re-pigmentation occurring. A serious potential side effect involves the risk of developing skin cancer, the same risk as an over-exposure to natural sunlight.
Ultraviolet light (UVA) treatments are normally carried out in a hospital clinic. Psoralen and ultraviolet A light (PUVA) treatment involves taking a drug that increases the skin’s sensitivity to ultraviolet light, then exposing the skin to high doses of UVA light. Treatment is required twice a week for 6–12 months or longer. Because of the high doses of UVA and psoralen, PUVA may cause side effects such as sunburn-type reactions or skin freckling. Narrowband ultraviolet B (NBUVB) phototherapy lacks the side-effects caused by psoralens and is as effective as PUVA. As with PUVA, treatment is carried out twice weekly in a clinic or every day at home, and there is no need to use psoralen. Longer treatment is often recommended, and at least 6 months may be required for effects to phototherapy. NBUVB phototherapy appears better than PUVA therapy with the most effective response on the face and neck. With respect to improved repigmentation: topical calcineurin inhibitors plus phototherapy are better than phototherapy alone, hydrocortisone plus laser light is better than laser light alone, gingko biloba is better than placebo, and oral mini-pulse of prednisolone (OMP) plus NB-UVB is better than OMP alone.
3. Skin Camouflage
In mild cases, vitiligo patches can be hidden with makeup or other cosmetic camouflage solutions. If the affected person is pale-skinned, the patches can be made less visible by avoiding tanning of unaffected skin.
In cases of extensive vitiligo the option to de-pigment the unaffected skin with topical drugs like monobenzone, mequinol, or hydroquinone may be considered to render the skin an even colour. The removal of all the skin pigment with monobenzone is permanent and vigorous. Sun-safety must be adhered to for life to avoid severe sunburn and melanomas. Depigmentation takes about a year to complete.